Tito Vilanova has reflected that Barcelona made too many errors against Malaga last night, but he refused to blame Alexis Sanchez and Thiago Alcantara.
Barca were surprisingly held 2-2 at home to Malaga on Wednesday night in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final, with the visitors netting a last-minute equaliser at the Camp Nou despite having been reduced to 10 men.
“There was a difference between the two halves. During the first half we could have decided the tie and we played very well, at a very good level,” began Vilanova in trying to explain the result.
“Malaga, I do not believe, were superior. In the first half we were superior. The draw changes the thinking a bit…
“This is a game of mistakes, but in the first half, again, we were at a high level. Sometimes it is not easy to explain.
“We already knew that this would not be an easy tie. We will go back to theirs to try and win.”
Mistakes in the game included notable misses in front of goal from Alexis, and an error in possession from Thiago that saw Malaga take the lead in the first half.
“In these moments for Alexis, as for Thiago, we will try to help. If things do not work out it is not because they are not trying.
“They might fail and that is forgiven, what is not forgiven is not trying. They are here with all the enthusiasm of the world and they are one of ours.
“They must be protected, they will improve and bring out the best that is within. Otherwise, they will become increasingly more fearful and this field has eaten great players.
“And Thiago’s error comes good, in the sense that we realise what we risk when we go out with the ball from the back.
“We cannot think like that when the result is not as good in this game that we love so much. We are continuously risking. But we will continue to do so.
“I’ve not spoken to Alexis after the game. They are young players but professional. It would not do good with that noise. The reaction of the people that encouraged him is valid. Not only me, but everyone in the staff, we know what kind of player he is, he deserves that.”
Vilanova had made eight changes to the team.
“In hindsight I would do the same again. In the first half we could hardly have played better with another team. We had six chances in the first half and the other day in Malaga we had had two.
“We had more of the game and we played better than the other day in Malaga which was so celebrated. I would repeat the changes again.
“The second leg? We have to win. It would have been so if it had stayed at 2-1. It should not mean anything different. It is what we will go to do in Malaga.
“If we had had a better result it would have been better, but it is what it is.”
The Coach was asked of the news that former Barcelona Coach Pep Guardiola has agreed to take over at Bayern next season.
“I am very happy for his return to football and to one of the biggest teams in Europe that he could choose. I do not know who will be his assistant… I do not know about the possibilities.
“He has had the time to choose. What is clear is that he could not go wrong because all the teams interested are at a level.
“In England, Bayern with four European Cups… Three years? I do not now, I don’t know how the negotiations went. I know that here he would rather do a contract every year because this is his home. Outside it is different.”