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

said.

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.”