Guardiola looks to maintain hunger after triumphs
Even though Barcelona capped a perfect year and secured its place
in football history with a 2-1 Club World Cup final win over
Estudiantes on Saturday, maintaining the team’s hunger for more
success appears the biggest task ahead.
Soon after Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi scored a 110th
minute winner to seal the extra-time win, Pep Guardiola was already
worrying about how to defend the six titles.
“This is my target, this is my responsibility. I have to do
it,” the Barcelona coach said. “I don’t know how.”
Perhaps sensing the magnitude of the accomplishment,
Guardiola wept as his players prepared to lift the trophy at the
Zayed Sports City stadium.
“We have worked a lot,” Guardiola said. “This has been
possible thanks to their efforts. It belongs to a lot of people but
especially the players.”
Barcelona beat Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk and
Athletic Bilbao – twice – in cup finals, while registering a record
6-2 win at Real Madrid on its way to a 19th Spanish league crown.
The Catalans have finally added the one piece of silverware
missing from the trophy room after two previous final defeats in
1992 and 2006.
“When you go up against a team like Barcelona, a defeat is
the most probable result,” Estudiantes coach Alejandro Sabella
But Guardiola also warned his team – and fans alike – to
enjoy 2009’s accomplishments even before lifting the trophy.
“The future is dark,” Guardiola had said on the eve of the
final. “Because no matter what we do we will never be able to
surpass this. We’d be wrong to compare other seasons to what we
have done in this one.”
Although Barcelona’s lineup boasts star players such as Messi
and Spain internationals Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, the key
has been the 38-year-old coach.
“He’s worked very hard,” Xavi said. “He deserves everything.”
Guardiola took over a troubled club last season.
He cast out Ronaldinho and Deco and the team achieved league
and Copa del Rey titles before he closed his first season as a
coach with a 2-0 Champions League win over Manchester United.
Guardiola’s secret that night in Rome was a pre-game motivational
video that included clips from the movie ‘Gladiator.’
Guardiola swapped Samuel Eto’o for Zlatan Ibrahimovic this
summer and the team’s success continued, securing Spanish Supercup
and European Supercup honors. He’s also introduced academy players
like Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez, while Jeffren Suarez was
impressive as a late substitute Saturday.
Now comes the toughest part – maintaining his players’
motivation for more success.
“I have to see the players when we come back (from Christmas
break),” Guardiola said. “I know the players and the feelings they
have and they like to work.”