‘Pep enjoyed being a Cule again!’

Josep Maria Bartomeu claims Pep Guardiola enjoyed being a Barcelona fan again after he watched his former club defeat Manchester City on Wednesday.

The Catalans’ ex-midfielder and Coach attended the Champions League last-16 second leg at Camp Nou as a spectator, rather than an official guest, and made clear his affection for the team throughout the match.

“Our objective was to reach the quarter-finals,” the President said after the game.

“It was a long match with [lots of] chances [to win by more], but now we must await the [quarter-final] draw.

“The best player in the match was [Joe] Hart and our players had many opportunities.

“It’s true that [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen saved a penalty. It was a nice match for the spectators, but we like to score goals.

“Now, we return to our League commitments. We want to continue winning and improving week after week.

“We had 95,000 fans in our stadium and it was a pleasure [to appease them]. [Lionel] Messi gets better with every game and is playing at a high level.

“[The team selection for the Clasico] is Luis Enrique’s decision. We have a large, professional squad.

“However, we can’t forget that Messi, Neymar and [Luis] Suarez are enjoying their football immensely. I don’t know who the Coach will play.

“The truth is that when you get into the knockout stages, all the teams are strong and powerful.

“There have been surprises [in the last 16], but any tie will be difficult. We’ll see who we get. Any team will be difficult [to face].

“I couldn’t greet [Pep Guardiola] because he came just for the match. He’s invited to Camp Nou whenever he likes. I think Guardiola enjoyed the game more as a Cule!

“There are [eight] very strong, competitive teams [in Friday’s draw] and any of them will be difficult for us.

“The League is another competition and we have 12 games remaining, so Sunday’s result [in the Clasico] is important but not decisive.

“The season is long and there are sometimes bad times and good times. We’re feeling good and ambitious and this is important. The [performance levels of the] team give us confidence.

“Today, the fans chanted the names of Luis Enrique, [Lionel] Messi and [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen, and that’s a good thing. We remain confident.”

Tags Clasico Josep Maria Bartomeu Manchester City Pep Guardiola