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Jul 24, 2011

Guardiola happy with Hajduk draw

Hajduk Split held Barcelona to a scoreless draw on Saturday night in a match celebrating the Croatian club's centenary, and Barca coach Pep Guardiola claimed he was satisfied with the result.

It was Barcelona's first game since their famous Wembley triumph over Manchester United in the Champions League and they controlled possession and had the better of the chances despite missing many of their stars.

Absent was Lionel Messi and his fellow Copa America team-mates Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves, Gabi Milito and Adriano. Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Xavi and Pedro were also missing, nursing slight injuries.

Victor Valdes and David Villa started the match alongside Ibrahim Afellay, Thiago and Seydou Keita, while Andres Iniesta Eric Abidal, Jeffren, Sergio Busquets and Maxwell came on at half-time when Guardiola changed his entire side.

Villa came closest, hitting the post in the 16th minute, but Hajduk gave as good as they got and Marin Tomasov forced Valdes into a good first half save while sub Ivan Vukovic had a second half free-kick tipped over by sub Pinto.

At the end of the game, Guardiola claimed he was happy with the result and paid tribute to the Hajduk fans.

"The Hajduk fans were marvellous, perfect, awesome, exciting, there were a lot of people and they were right behind their team,'' said Guardiola. "But I am happy with my team. It was our first game and we had quite a few players unavailable and we had no injuries, we moved the ball as quick as possible, we played better in the second half and had more possession.

"We obviously have to get better but for the first game I am happy because we played with a lot of young players, many of whom were playing their first game.

"We have to take it step by step and give the young players time. It's a process getting into the first team, you have to be patient and they have to make mistakes and you have to teach them why they made the mistakes and help them find a solution.''

Hajduk coach Krasimir Balakov was probably even more satisfied with his team's performance.

"We played a very good game tactically, they were organised, disciplined and did what I asked of them which was most important,'' said Balakov. "Barca's the best team in the world and the key was not to lose the game. I think we could have scored but the players almost seemed to have too much respect for them in front of goal.

"It was a good test before Stoke, we played with three in midfield and we'll get some information on them before deciding on which players to go with and how we'll line up. But the fans were fantastic, the Torcida are our 12th man and hopefully we can continue to make them happy.''

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