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Is La Masia losing its power?

Barcelona
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By ESPN Staff

Barca play down favourites tag after 5-0 win

MADRID, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Barcelona were quick to play down the significance of their 5-0 demolition of Champions League debutants Levksi Sofia on Tuesday as they began the defence of their European crown.

'You can't talk of favourites yet because the tournament has only just started,' Dutch defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst said. 'It was important to win and another win against Werder Bremen would give us confidence to face Chelsea.'

Barcelona produced an exhilarating display of attacking football that left their visitors floundering and sent out a warning to Jose Mourinho's English champions.

Ominously, Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho said his partnership with Samuel Eto'o was getting even better, illustrated by their dazzling displays against the Bulgarians.

They both scored superb goals after the break and Ronaldinho said: 'I have a better understanding with Samuel now and day by day we are able to work on it and improve it, so that I know better what he is going to do. This is a great benefit for the team.'

The Spanish champions strengthened their double winning side with Italian defender Gianluca Zambrotta, French defender Lilian Thuram and Icelandic forward Eidur Gudjohnsen during the close season.

That depth of quality in the squad has made coach Frank Rijkaard's rotation policy easier to carry out.

Tuesday's side had six changes from the one that started the 3-0 defeat of Osasuna in the Primera Liga on Saturday with Rijkaard able to leave out the likes of Rafael Marquez, Silvinho and Javier Saviola.

'We have a great squad now and it is important we use them carefully,' said Rijkaard.

'Because of the World Cup we have players at differing levels of fitness and we have to know how to work with that problem.'

Barcelona are away to Werder Bremen in their next Group A match on Sept 27.