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AS.com | 06/01/2013
Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova returned to the dugout on Sunday after missing his team's last league game while he was recovering from cancer treatment. He watched his side hammer Espanyol 4-0 in the Catalan derby but began his post-match press conference by giving his thanks to his friends, the media and the fans for the respect they have shown him since he discovered his cancer had returned.
"I thank everyone that has supported me during this period and to the doctors who have been treating me," he said.
"And of course to my players and the club for knowing how to overcome this piece of news in the way they have done. This team has been dealt a lot of blows in the last two years.
"I always look on the positive side. What has happened to me could happen to anyone. I thank the vast majority of the media for how you have dealt with my illness. It is not over yet. There will be days when I'll be able to coach the team and other days when I won't. I know I have a public position but this illness is private. Therefore, I ask you to continue to respect my privacy."
Vilanova then spoke about the win over Espanyol, which he called "a great gift from the three wise men".
Analysis of the game: "The state of the pitch helped us, it was a quick pitch. I think we had chances to score more but this was a present for everyone, including the fans, a spectacular gift from the three wise men."
Why he stayed in the dugout for most of the game: "I didn't leave my dugout in the first half. I prefer to be on my feet when I'm watching the game but the team went out onto the pitch with a very good dynamic, so I preferred to stay in my seat. In the second half I wanted the team to give more so I got up from my seat more. Of course everyone was happy I had improved, but there's still a long way to go."
Pedro ending his goal drought: "We have always recognised Pedro's contribution, we can see how he is in training. A couple of years ago he struggled to score goals in certain games. He's very quick off the mark and it was good for him to score because the more games you go without scoring the more pressure you feel. He played really well."
Were the players more motivated because he was returning?: "I don't think they were especially motivated, we were playing against Espanyol and that's always a joy for our fans. I suppose that inside they were happy to see me but I think they are always motivated when they play."
Espanyol: "I don't think they lacked aggression, I think the state of the pitch allowed us to play first touch football, and when you pass the ball well, the opposition can't score, and we played at a very fast pace."
The team's resilience: "We are lucky to have been working together for four and a half years. At the end of the day, our players' willingness to keep competing and to beat their own records is key. It makes things easier when even the substitutes are raring to go, this helps the team grow."
The possibility of beating Madrid's total of 100 pointsand 120 goals: "We should not think about this, it wouldn't be good for us. We have to take each game as it comes. It may be a cliché, but it's the reality. I don't care about getting 100 points, 99 points or 98 points, it would just be a distraction. What I would like is for us to win the league, there is no point looking too far ahead."
Four Barça players in the L'Equipe team of the year: "I take this very seriously because it means the team is working well, and that's vital. Of course I will follow the Ballon d'Or award ceremony and I hope we win as many prizes as possible."