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Stoichkov: Rijkaard Made The Barcelona Squad Guardiola Inherited 

Stoichkov: Rijkaard Made The Barcelona Squad Guardiola Inherited 

Barcelona and Bulgaria legend Hristo Stoichkov claims former teammate Pep Guardiola just got lucky as he inherited an already made team from Frank Rijkaard at the Catalan club.

Stoichkov who won the 1994 a Ballon d’Or winner, played side by side Guardiola when Johan Cruyff led Barcelona to their first Champions League triumph in 1992.

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Stoichkov reckons the current Manchester City boss inherited a team from Rijkaard that was destined for greatness with or without him, when he was appointed in the summer of 2008.

“ Barcelona was already cooked,” is Stoichkov’s take on a side that would be inspired by Lionel Messi to win 14 trophies in four seasons under Guardiola.

It is a criticism that has been levelled at 49-year-old Guardiola over his reigns at Bayern Munich and City too – that he’s just in the right place at the right time.

The 54-year-old Stoichkov said: “Pep’s work was easy, as he knew perfectly well the infrastructure of the youth system.

“Frank Rijkaard made the squad Pep took over.

“Messi and other players had already debuted with Rijkaard. Spectacular things would have been achieved with Pep or without.

“There was Thierry Henry, Deco, Ronaldinho, Rafa Marquez, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes.

“There were a few players Pep needed to move, but Andreas Iniesta and Pedro came in, and there was more playing time for Lionel – then the team was complete.”

Stoichkov, now working as a television pundit in the United States, commented on Jose Mourinho who worked alongside the late Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal at Barcelona.

He recalled: “He was a pretty smart boy. He looked at everything – from training and the warm-ups, to the work we did with the ball.

“Always a paper and a pen, always writing things down.”

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