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Friday 15 December 2017

'United are the target' - Guardiola

Barcelona's objective is to try and match Manchester United's recent consistency in the Champions League, coach Pep Guardiola says.

Defending the European Cup has proved a difficult task for holders over the past few years, and the 2009 winners go into tonight's Champions League last-16 home second leg against VfB Stuttgart with their tie finely balanced at 1-1.

"It's a marvellous challenge to try and be one of the best eight sides in Europe and to emulate Manchester United, who last year became the only recent champions to make the quarter-finals the following season," Guardiola told a news conference.



POSSIBLE

Barca went on to beat Alex Ferguson's United side 2-0 in the final in Rome last May. Guardiola also talked of the shock Champions League exit of La Liga title rivals Real Madrid at the hands of French outfit Olympique Lyon last week.

"Of course, it is possible the same could happen to us; this is a great competition," he said.

"It's a warning. We could lose but it would have been impossible for us to achieve the titles we did last season if we had underestimated our opponents."

Earlier, Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said it was important for the Catalans to stick to the attacking style that brought them the title last season.

"Above all we have to be ourselves," the Spain international said. "That is to say, focus on everything that made us the reigning champions. Keeping the ball, playing as a unit and, most importantly, creating goalscoring chances."

Stuttgart coach Christian Gross said Russian side Rubin Kazan had shown the way forward for all visitors to the Nou Camp, after they surprised Barca 2-1 there in the group stages.

"Rubin scored a goal in the first minute and this always gives you a lot of confidence," Gross said.

In tonight's other match, Bordeaux need to improve on their disappointing domestic form when they host Olympiakos in a bid to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1988.

Laurent Blanc's side are protecting a 1-0 lead in the second leg but haven't won a match since the February 23 victory against the Greek side.



DIFFICULT

Bordeaux have taken only two points from their last three league games and were held to a 0-0 draw at Monaco last weekend.

"Despite a difficult spell and some doubts over the way we're playing, we are still on course to fulfil our lofty objectives," Blanc said after the Monaco game.

The French squad have shown signs of fatigue and struggled in attack, and constant speculation that Blanc may replace Raymond Domenech as the France coach hasn't helped.

"I hope the team will find back the spirit of competitiveness we had in 2009," Blanc said.

BARCELONA v STUTTGART,

LIVE RTe2/UTV (KO 7.45)

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