Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola praised his side for their performance in Tuesday’s goalless Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea, and promised to continue in the same vein for next week’s decider at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking after the 1-0 draw in Camp Nou, Guardiola acknowledged that Barcelona had found it difficult to break down an obdurate Chelsea defence.
“The result is what it is, you can’t say in football that you deserved more,” said the 38-year-old. “Our rivals know how we play, and they were very defensive. They had six players in defence, were physical and strong, but we tried to play the way we do and present a good image.
“We’ll go to London with the same spirit, nothing will change that. There’s nothing to be ashamed of after a performance like that; there’s no one to blame for not winning. I can only be proud of my players.
“It’s never easy to play well when the opponent isn’t trying to push forward and play football. European ties can be settled by small details and these didn’t go our way tonight.
“For many months we’ve been winning games, and confidence is still high, but we still need the fans to get behind us and they were a great help tonight. We played honestly and people value that. We always go out to win, as we will against Real Madrid on Saturday.
Guus Hiddink, meanwhile, knows “nothing is decided” despite hailing a solid defensive display from his side.
“We’re pleased with the result when you look at Barcelona’s recent results and what the scores have been in games here,” said Hiddink. “I think it’s the first time they haven’t scored a goal in a home game this season which is quite an achievement.
“We managed to be very disciplined tactically, defensively, but we didn’t keep possession well in the first half, and kicked too many balls away [out of defence]. In the second half we were better and started playing.
“It’s a compliment to the team to get this result in difficult circumstances but we still have to improve in the second game. Nowadays it’s not a big advantage playing away or at home so nothing is decided, but it’s still a good result against a good team.”
Hiddink singled out goalkeeper Petr Cech and skipper John Terry for praise.
“Petr did a good job defensively,” he continued. “He saved the game for us and [José] Bosingwa also did a good job, got good help from [Florent] Malouda down the left side and there was also good support from John Terry when Messi went inside.
“You have to play very courageously here and also with a lot of intelligence. Terry was inspiring and an example to the rest of the team, who responded very well.
“This is a team who must play better when we have possession but this opponent doesn’t let you play easily. My team has a lot of courage and are ready to spill a lot of blood for the cause; mentally they’re very tough.