STUTTGART - European champions Barcelona have been savaged by critics in their last two matches, without losing either of them, prompting coach Pep Guardiola to try to dispel the perception his team just have to turn up to win.
On Saturday, Barcelona thumped Racing Santander 4-0 in La Liga, only to have it dubbed one of their worst performances of the last 18 months.
Their 1-1 draw at VfB Stuttgart in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 on Tuesday would have delighted most teams, yet Guardiola was again grilled on why his team had played so poorly.
Having won every title possible last year - the Champions League, Spanish league and cup, and club world championship - traditionally high expectations seem to have been blown completely out of proportion.
"People just assume its all over and done with," he said. "People think we just going to win the game whatever happens because we are reigning champions. But that's not the case. Everything is hard work. The other teams are very well prepared."
Guardiola spent most of his analysis after Tuesday's match trying to explain that Barcelona had to do more than just simply turn up to win the match.
"There are times when things flow and times when they don't. The team always tries to do the right thing, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't," he added.
The coach did admit, however, that his team can play better.
"The result was relatively positive, but we have to improve to win any titles. We know what we have to do and I have no doubt that we will do it."
Barcelona, who lead La Liga by two points from arch-rivals Real Madrid, fell behind to a 25th minute goal by Cacau and could have been in more trouble if the Germans had taken their chances.
However, the visitors were a different team after Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised shortly after half time.comments