Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola admitted he was disappointed with his side’s performance against Stuttgart in Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 encounter with Stuttgart.
Speaking in the wake of the 1-1 draw in Germany, the Barca coach praised his players for the effort they put in, but acknowledged that they would have to improve in the second leg.
“We were not very good when we lost possession,” said Guardiola. “[Sergio] Busquets and Xavi were a little lost. We improved after the break and the goal from [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic calmed us but we always tried.
“We cannot take anything for granted. We must fight because these teams are tough. If you’re not right, the consequences can be costly. This is the last 16 of the Champions League.
“The result is good but how it was achieved was not. We clearly need to improve if we are to win titles.”
Ibrahimovic’s 52nd-minute strike was enough to cancel out Cacau’s 25th-minute opener, and Guardiola felt Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s equaliser was pivotal, noting: “It’s goals that count in football.”
“Strikers are judged by goals and he scored again tonight, so surely that has to be good for everyone? The goal gave him the impetus he needed and at the end of the day it’s goals that count in football.”
Stuttgart coach Christian Gross was content with his side’s performance.
“We knew it was difficult to play a good game against Barcelona, but we did it. We had a compact defense and did not allow nearly chances. We had enough chances to score a second,” Gross told a press conference.
“They equalized at a time when we defended poorly in the middle and we had to score a second. That’s the only thing that annoys me.
“I think a 1-1 draw against Barcelona is a success. Few teams in the world can get a draw against Barcelona. Now we must try to do things to make the best possible return and see if it succeeds.”