Barca is still hungry after world triumph

Updated: 2011-12-20 08:06

(China Daily)

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YOKOHAMA, Japan - Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has Spanish title rival Real Madrid and European glory firmly back in his sights after a trip to the Far East that yielded another world crown.

Guardiola sealed the 13th title of his glittering 3 1/2-year reign on Sunday when the Catalans overpowered South American champions Santos 4-0, with Lionel Messi bagging a classy double.

It was the perfect launchpad for 2012, Guardiola said, after a weekend on which Real Madrid went three points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a thumping 6-2 win at Sevilla.

European champion Barca arrived in Japan last week after an impressive 3-1 win away at Real took them back to the top of the league in Spain.

"It will be a surprise for me if the team gives up," Guardiola said of his side, countering suggestions that after so much success his players could struggle for motivation.

His men strive to "keep going forward", he said. "For us, our target is to play great football for the crowd, fight for the Spanish league and travel around Europe to show people our level.

"The success is all about the great players and their effort," he said.

But the 40-year-old admitted his star-studded side's latest triumph had come at a cost after striker David Villa, linked with a move away from the Nou Camp before his injury, fractured his shin in the semifinal against Al Sadd.

He is likely to be out for up to five months, meaning he will likely miss most, if not all, of the rest of the season.

Guardiola said in the immediate aftermath of Villa's injury that it was "not respectful" to talk about the possibility of Barcelona buying a replacement in the winter transfer window.

"His injury was the most unfortunate thing of this tournament, but I am sure that he will return to the team soon," the coach said.

The annual intercontinental tournament is hugely important in South America and coach Muricy Ramalho will face criticism when his side arrives home but he insisted there was no disgrace despite the heavy defeat.

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 12/20/2011 page22)