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Barca looks to prove Hercules loss was fluke
by Paul Kennedy, September 13th, 2010 10:16PM



[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Following an improbable 2-0 loss at home to promoted Hercules on Saturday, Barcelona will look to have better luck at the Camp Nou on Tuesday when it hosts Greek club Panathinaikos.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola admitted his players "lacked pace and intensity" in their first match back from the league break for a double fixture date that saw six Barca Spaniards and three Barca Argentines fly to Buenos Aires and back for Tuesday's Spain-Argentina friendly.

Playmaker Xavi said Barca still had "a good team -- no, we have a great team,'' both others have already questioned some of the club's offseason moves.

Argentine Javier Mascherano, acquired from Liverpool, had an unhappy debut in midfield in place of Sergio Busquets against Hercules and was taken off at the half after picking up a yellow card.

Lionel Messi wasn't a factor in a game, and the attack missed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, shipped to AC Milan late in the summer market.
Andres Iniesta said the Hercules game was an anomaly.

"With the players we have, if the team plays with quickness and clear ideas, we can score goals," he said. "With goals, things change."

Guardiola admitted the pressure of expectations could be a problem at Barcelona. After all, it won six trophies in 2009 and captured La Liga with only one loss in 2010.

"Winning everything last year could turn out to be dangerous," Guardiola said. "The day my players don't want to play anymore means there are two problems: either half the team has to go, which is impossible, or the coach."

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