Swansea City: Jonathan de Guzman is happy to play the Barca way
SWANSEA City earned unlikely comparisons to Barcelona last season — and new signing Jonathan de Guzman is hoping to keep up the Catalan connection.
The midfielder was Michael Laudrup's second acquisition as Swansea manager, joining on a season-long loan from Villarreal.
He has already played under Laudrup, at Real Mallorca, where he lined up to play against Barcelona on two occasions.
The islanders managed a draw at the Camp Nou but fell to a 3-0 defeat at home to the Catalan kings, a footballing lesson which is imprinted on de Guzman's mind.
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Barcelona's beautiful brand of football has set new standards in the sport and, although Swansea are light years from winning the Champions League, de Guzman reckons his new side have quite a bit in common with the mighty Barca.
"I think everyone in world football admires the play of Barcelona," he said.
"I think we all look up to that, it's the best football there is right now. Every team in the world is trying to play that way — total football.
"You see that with our team. We try to play football from the back, we don't rush and we just wait for our chances. The more you have the ball, the less the other team has a chance to score.
"I played against them when I was at Mallorca.
"Playing against Barcelona is an honour. It's a great team with great players.
"I know from last season Swansea play very good football. They made a lot of passes and I think you could say there's a little bit of Barcelona football here.
"Not many teams play that much football, but I think Swansea do."
Having played a large part of his career in La Liga, de Guzman is well accustomed to the patient, passing approach Swansea favour.
A former Netherlands Under-21 international, he has forged a reputation as a creative midfielder with the vision and range of passing to launch attacks from deep.
In his pre-season appearances for the Swans to date, de Guzman has been used alongside the holding Leon Britton and the more advanced Michu in a midfield trio.
He seems to be settling into his role and, even with Michu operating almost as a secondary forward at times, de Guzman still feels he has the freedom to roam.
"It's a good balance. Leon holds the back very well and he's a connecting player," he said. "I'm a bit more attacking and I think we do well as a group.
"We've been playing well, particularly in the first half against Blackpool where we were creating chances for the wingers and Danny Graham.
"It looked like it was working pretty well. There's still a lot to work on and hopefully we'll be ready for our first league game at QPR.
"I see myself as an attacking midfielder. With the creativity of Michu, who brings others into the game, you look for your chances to move forward.
"I have confidence in Michu with the ball, so I can make those runs and get my chances."
Britton, Michu and de Guzman appeared to have formed a reasonable understanding during Swansea's 4-2 friendly win over Blackpool at the Liberty on Tuesday.
Although fair judgements cannot be based on pre-season fixtures alone, the confidence and cohesion with which Swansea played did bode well for the new season.
"It was good. The fans showed us a lot of support," de Guzman said.
"I think we did very well in the first half, keeping the ball and getting our chances and scoring goals.
"I think in the second half we played a little slower and there was a little lack of concentration with people getting tired.
"We still need to get fit for the first game against QPR but, other than that, it was a good result and I think we showed the fans some good football.
"Pre-season has been good," he added.
"I think we started off a bit slow but I think we've moulded together as a starting XI.
"I think we've done very well as a team and we have one more game against Stuttgart, which will be a bigger test. Hopefully we'll be ready for QPR.
"It's my first time in the Premier League and I'm very happy to be here. Swansea's a very good club and they welcome here very well. It's a nice group."