Andres Iniesta happy with Tito Vilanova's new Barcelona

 

Tito Vilanova is quietly stamping his authority on the Barcelona squad and they head into their Champions League Group G opener at home to Spartak Moscow tonight with La Liga's only perfect record.

It was a daunting task to step up from assistant to replace Pep Guardiola in the Nou Camp hot seat, taking over from a fans' idol who won a record 14 trophies in his four years in charge.

Vilanova, who turned 44 on Monday, did not command the instant respect that the former Spain international Guardiola had accrued, but he has quickly shown he is not afraid to plough his own furrow.

At Getafe on Saturday, Vilanova rested World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and Brazil international Dani Alves for a fixture Barça have often struggled with, and at a venue where champions Real Madrid fell 2-1 last month.

The side were also shorn of Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Alexis Sanchez, and during the Guardiola era they often struggled with the so-called "Fifa virus" after international breaks.

It had been a year since Messi was last rested for a league game and after Barça were held 2-2 at Real Sociedad, Guardiola never left him out again.

Vilanova's side, however, came through with a 4-1 victory at Getafe, displaying the zip and hunger that had at times been missing towards the end of Guardiola's reign.

"The philosophy and method of working is basically pretty similar, but we have a new coach, a new form of doing things and we are very happy about him being with us," said Iniesta. "He knows us very well and I am confident things will go well."

Barça have a doubt over Alba who missed Saturday's game and Sanchez who is recovering from a muscle problem.

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