Barca keen to atone for Hercules loss

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola said he is unconcerned about the prospect of facing nemesis Hercules in La Liga on Saturday.

Hercules, currently 12th on the table, caused the upset of the season when they defeated the Catalans at the Camp Nou 2-0 four months ago – a loss that sparked the Spanish champions into a 28-match unbeaten streak in all competitions which ended only this month.

Guardiola’s men will look for their 15th consecutive league win at Estadio Jose Rico Perez, and the boss said he was proud of their efforts in maintaining their high performance levels in their title defence.

“I haven’t said that we have won half the league. There is still a long way to go. We are going to a place that will be very difficult to play at, particularly for the strengths of our opponents,” Guardiola said.

“That it hasn’t been equalled since 1971 shows that it is a record that holds tremendous value. Fourteen wins is astonishing in such a competitive world, with all the circumstances that exist. These things are achieved when you concentrate on the important things.”

“We have to look at Hercules and think about what we have to do to beat them, about what virtues they have, any possible defects. We’ll see how we do, after only three days’ rest.”

The Spanish manager said their shock loss to Hercules earlier in the season was a wake-up call for his players, some of whom were fresh from a World Cup victory playing for Spain.

“I don’t know if it was a turning point or not, but a defeat always gives way to reflection. Players came into that game having just won the World Cup, from very brief holidays and preseason training,” he said.

“But Hercules won because they were better on the day. We didn’t think or say then that it was because we hadn’t trained much together. We had sufficient time training in order to have won, but their players did very well.”