What next for Guardiola’s record-breaking Barcelona?

December 20th, 2009 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

AC Milan Madrid, Dec 20 (DPA) On Saturday Barcelona made history by becoming the first ever team to win six trophies in a calendar year.
Their dramatic 2-1 defeat of Argentine side Estudiantes in Saturday’s World Club Cup final means that Josep Guardiola’s talented team have won six trophies in 2009: the Spanish King’s Cup, the Spanish league, the Champions League, the Spanish Supercup, the European Supercup - and now, for the first time in the club’s history, the world crown as well.

Guardiola celebrated Barca’s “annus mirabilis” by bursting into tears - and then was tossed high by his euphoric players.

The final whistle led to noisy street celebrations throughout the autonomous region of Catalonia, celebrations reminiscent of last spring.

Barca’s triumph in Abu Dhabi is front-page news in every Spanish newspaper Sunday, with the headlines proclaiming Guardiola’s team to be the best in the world - and even in the history of football.

Goalscorers Pedro and Lionel Messi are singled out for special praise.

Supersub Pedro has created a new record by scoring in six competitions this season, and is now in line to be part of the Spain squad at the World Cup finals.

Messi, for his part, has already won the European Footballer of the Year award and will almost certainly on Madrid be voted FIFA World Player.

Guardiola is quoted as saying that “we will only understand the enormity of what we have achieved a little bit later on.”

Joan Laporta - the Barca president now in the final months of his reign - said that “no team will ever be able to improve on this.”

So where does this superlative side go from here?

It is virtually certain that Guardiola, aged just 38, will stay on at the end of the season. Whoever succeeds Laporta as president will bend over backwards to keep the coach, with a difficult-to-refuse contract offer.

The major clubs of Europe will surely try to lure Guardiola away from the Camp Nou, but he is likely to stay put, at least for two more years.

How many more trophies will he guide Messi and company to?

Guardiola, with his habitual caution and common sense, pointed out on Friday that the rest of the season “will not be easy… Expectations among the fans are very high, and everyone will

be trying to beat us.”

Not since 1990 has a team (the AC Milan side of Arrigo Sacchi) managed to win back-to-back Champions Cups. Barca should have few problems in the round of 16 against Vfb Stuttgart, but the quarters and semi-finals will be especially difficult this season.

And star-studded Real Madrid, the most expensive team in history, are determined to push Barca all the way in the race for the Liga title.

On Saturday, whilst Barca were celebrating in Abu Dhabi, Real set out their stall by thrashing Zaragoza 6-0, a win which leaves them just two points behind the Catalans.

Guardiola doesn’t seem interested in strengthening his squad in the January transfer “window”, though he maybe should consider buying another midfielder given that Seydou Keita and Yaya Toure will be absent throughout January because of the African Nations Cup.

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