Cesc Fabregas sees difficult road ahead
Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas believes it will be 'very difficult' for the Nou Camp class of 2014 to match the brilliance of the relentlessly successful Barca team that reigned supreme in the Champions League a few years ago.
Fabregas admitted the 4-1 aggregate win against Manchester City was a huge boost after recent setbacks for Barca, but the former Arsenal midfielder appeared to suggest that expectations need to be lowered among the Catalan faithful after years of being spoilt by brilliant success.
Barcelona most recently won the Champions League in 2009 and 2011.
"To be the Barcelona of two, three four years ago is very difficult," Fabregas told Sky Sports. "This was probably the best team in the history of football and it's very difficult to maintain this level every season. We don't ask for it.
"We just try to do our best and be as close as possible to the top of the game. That's what we'll try to do until the end of the season.
"Everything is good at Barcelona right now. We are in the final of the cup [Copa Del Rey] against Real Madrid, we are four points behind in the league and while it is true that last weekend we had a terrible result [lost to Valladolid], anything can happen when you are only four points behind.
"We still have to go to Madrid next week and we need a good result there. We are also in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. I think many teams would like to be in our position."
Fabregas was complimentary of City's efforts after his side record a 2-1 second leg win at the Nou Camp, as he insisted Barcelona never took the second leg lightly despite holding a two goal advantage from the game against City in Manchester.
"It was a very tight game, playing against a world-class team," added Fabregas. "We knew it was going to be difficult. The 2-0 was a great result over there. It's never easy to go to Manchester and win the way we did it.
"Apparently, there was a penalty not awarded [for City] and the goal from Neymar in the first half was onside, but we take a lot of positives. I think we played a lot better than the last few games. We were not at our best and today is a way to lift the spirit of the team.
"We go home happy. For the last couple of games, we could not have said that because we were not happy going back home after some negative results. I think we played a good game today against a class team and we are proud of it."
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino, who has been under pressure over perceived indifferent form, felt the victory would give his team much encouragement.
"You have to remember what was said when the draw was made -- that we were going to suffer a lot -- and we won 4-1 and won both matches," Martino said.
"City are very good individually and collectively. If we are capable of playing both matches the way we did against a team of their quality then we can face any of the winners in the quarter-finals."