YOKOHAMA – Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas has warned rivals that the newly crowned world champions have the desire and commitment to stay on top for many more years to come.
Barcelona crushed Brazilian side Santos 4-0 on Sunday night to win the Club World Cup for the second time in three years, adding another title to the glittering roll call of success that the Catalan club has enjoyed under manager Pep Guardiola.
But Fabregas insists that Barca’s current golden era shows no signs of fading, and has set his sights on more trophies despite the added pressure that comes with official recognition as the world’s best team.
“We are very young players and I still believe that we can keep this hunger,” said Fabregas, who left Arsenal to rejoin his boyhood club this summer. “Obviously you can’t win every single year. That’s impossible. But we have to do the best we can to try and do it.
“This team loves pressure and this team loves these types of games. That’s why they have won as much as they have these last four seasons. They don’t have to prove anything to anyone any more, and what we have to do is keep believing that we can do more.”
Barcelona brushed Santos aside at Nissan Stadium with two goals from world player of the year Lionel Messi and one each from Fabregas and Xavi, but Fabregas insists the victory was far from the cakewalk it appeared to be.
“It wasn’t easy at all,” the 24-year-old said. “I think they made it difficult at the beginning, but we were fortunate to score quick and then another one a few minutes later.
“If you say it’s easy it’s because we played a very professional game, very disciplined. That made it look easy but it wasn’t easy at all.”
But while winning the title may have been harder than it looked, Guardiola insists there is nothing complicated about his team’s philosophy.
“We’ve got a core of very talented players and the secret of our success is simple,” the manager said. “We study our opponents closely, use space well, keep control of the ball and move it around very quickly.
“My players are real competitors and I’m sure they’re going to want to keep on going and win more trophies.”
Santos was pinning its hopes on the skill of young attackers Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso, but Barcelona’s breathtaking speed and relentless pressing rendered them little more than spectators.
“We are very happy, particularly with the way we played in the first half,” said Guardiola. “We killed off all the chances Santos had and we didn’t allow Ganso and Neymar to link up, so I’m very satisfied.
“It was difficult to get this far. We had to win the Champions League first, and this represents the end of a long cycle. This is a great generation of Barcelona players.”
Santos’ disappointment was palpable after preparing for the tournament ever since winning the Copa Libertadores in June, but manager Muricy Ramalho refused to be despondent.
“I don’t think there’s any team out there that can beat Barcelona, though maybe someone will find the secret in the future,” he said. “They’ve changed the whole concept of playing without a genuine striker. Messi showed again tonight that he’s No. 1, but Neymar’s time will come.
“We shouldn’t start doubting ourselves just because we’ve lost to Barcelona. There’s no shame in that. Now we have to keep working hard so that we can come back next year and have a go at beating Barcelona or another team.”