Barcelona qualified comfortably for the second phase of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday after beating AC Milan 3-1 at the Camp Nou thanks to a Lionel Messi brace and a set-piece header from Sergio Busquets. After the game, El Larguero asked center backGerard Pique how Tata Martino’s Barcelona compares to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, which some critics have described as the greatest club team of all time
“Of course our play can improve,” Pique, who was unfortunate to score an own goal on Wednesday, said. “We are coming from being so, so great, that anything which is not of that level seems to be not very much. [We are missing] more pressure up front, more fluidity, more regular chances, to have one every three or four minutes, which we had a few years ago. But we are talking about something very, very difficult, making comparisons with 2009, when we won six trophies. We are talking about the best team in history. Nobody can achieve that.”
Busquets, who scored the second of Barca’s three goals on the night, also rejected suggestions that this Barcelona is inferior. “It will be very difficult for anyone to repeat the first Guardiola era. First for us, and second because our opponents know us better. They make it hard for us, and sometimes we lack that spark so it is difficult. We are not at 100 percent but that will come.”
Even so, Barca has played 18 competitive games so far this season, and is still unbeaten. Martino’s men started the year by winning the Spanish Supercopa, and is now currently top of La Liga, although it sits just one point ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid. The Catalan giant is also virtually assured of finishing top of UCL Group H, where it has 10 points from four games, five points ahead of second-place Milan.