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Vilanova pleased with display

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has lauded the collective effort of his team after their 3-1 win over Real Zaragoza on Saturday.

Lionel Messi netted a brace and Alex Song also got on the scoresheet as Barcelona made it 11 wins from 12 La Liga matches this campaign.

Despite Messi’s double, Vilanova was quick to highlight the efficiency of his team’s performance after several players returned from international duty.

“They’ve worked hard today, I acknowledge the strains of midweek internationals,” Vilanova told reporters afterwards.

“Leo was decisive and great teams have great players, but he does not win games on his own.”

Barcelona sit six points clear atop La Liga after the win, and maintained their eight-point buffer over third-placed rivals Real Madrid.

Captain Carles Puyol was substituted with a quarter of an hour to play and Vilanova said it was a precautionary move.

“I wanted to give Jordi Alba some rest but he told us to have a player ready just in case Puyol needed to come off,” Vilanova said.

“I decided to sub him out because he hasn’t played in a long time and we’ve been having (injury) problems with our centre backs.”

Vilanova said he was pleased with the performance of his centre-back pairing of Puyol and Gerard Pique, who have both endured injury worries this campaign.

“It’s good for all of us to have them back on the team. This also allows us to rest players like (Javier) Mascherano,” he said.

“They’ll regain their form and their performances will improve over time.”

Sun 18 November, 2012
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