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Vilanova demands tougher Barca

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova said his side must fight harder to secure wins, as they tackle Benfica in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Barring their defeat to Real Madrid in the second-leg of the Supercopa, the La Liga runners-up have won all of their other seven matches this season, but have kept just two clean sheets in the process.

Their tendency to leak goals has been acknowledged by Vilanova, who conceded other teams were inevitably going to figure out ways to counter their ‘tiki-taka’ approach, which saw them prosper under Pep Guardiola.

“It says a lot about the players, who have won so much,” Vilanova said at a press conference.

“You can also see that nothing is easy. Sometimes we underestimate other teams, but we saw how good Sevilla really were.

“We’re always the ones to beat and it’s becoming increasingly difficult because other teams know how we play.”

Nonetheless, Vilanova will be leading his charges out at the Estadio da Luz for their Group D encounter, and he expects an open match, given the Eagles are at home and his side only have their eyes on three points.

“It’s an important week because we’re playing big teams this week: Sevilla, Benfica and Madrid, but it’s not key,” Vilanova said.

“Unless something big happens, titles are always decided later on.

“Benfica are playing at home so I don’t think they’ll be defending deep. But if that’s the case then we’ll deal with it. Anyway, I don’t think they’ll go out looking for a draw.

“The most important match is the one tomorrow, after that we’ll talk about the others. In this group phase there are only six games.”

The former assistant also said a trio of his stars – Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Adriano – were on the cusp of defying injuries to play in the European clash, however Thiago Alcantara was ruled out.

“We’ll see how Iniesta, Puyol and Adriano are, then we’ll talk to the doctors,” he said.

“The other day the worst news was the injury to Thiago, both for the team and the player himself, who had just come back from a serious injury. He’s one player that gives us many options.”

Vilanova said Alex Song was filling a role not meant for him, due to injuries to central defenders Gerard Pique and Puyol.

“We brought him (Song) here to play as a centre-back or just in front of the back four; he can play in both positions. Injuries have meant we’ve needed him in central defence without giving him too much time to adapt,” he said.

Mon 1 October, 2012
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