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Apr 26, 2013

Tito Vilanova on Bayern: We can still win

In his first press conference since undergoing cancer treatment in New York on Jan. 18, Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova rallied his team for the upcoming second leg vs. Bayern Munich.

"We are Barca and we are playing at home," Vilanova said. "It would not be believable to say that we are going to win, but our obligation is to compete and we are capable of winning. We will tie the two-goal mark in the first half and we don't know what will happen after that. Bayern's fans created an ambience, let's see if we can replicate that at home. I'm not throwing in the towel."

Vilanova missed nearly three months of the season due to the cancer treatment in New York for a parotid gland tumor. On Tuesday, Barcelona vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Vilanova's job next season is secure.

"He will manage Barca next year," Bartomeu told Cataluyna Radio. "We believe in him. It was not easy to take on the transition and he has done it very well."

Bayern's 4-0 drubbing of Barcelona in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League semifinal opening leg has led to claims that Barcelona is at the end of an era with critics calling for major changes in the club.

But Vilanova cautioned fans not to write the team off just yet.

"People say this continuously," he said. "At the elite level, like La Liga or Champions, winning is always hard. Barca won over the past three years. Before that we hadn't won La Liga or Champions. If we win La Liga we will have won four of the past five years. That will be impossible to repeat. We have gone to Champions League semifinals six times, a record I think we can repeat next year. I don't think we are at the end of an era."

Regarding his own health, Vilanova said "I have the desire and the strength to continue next season."

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