Guardiola admits Barcelona defeated Xerez with Inter Milan on their minds

Barcelona struggled to see off nine-man Xerez to maintain their Liga leadership.

Barca began a crucial week with the right result, although the scoreline does not tell the whole story.

Pep Guardiola's makeshift side suffered some nervy moments at 2-1 before Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the all-important third goal after 55 minutes.

Barca had looked comfortable following early goals from Jeffren Suarez and Thierry Henry, but Mario Bermejo pulled one back immediately and Xerez missed a couple of great chances to level before Ibrahimovic's strike.

Guardiola was happy to have negotiated this match ahead of Wednesday's home clash against Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan.

"It was a dangerous game because however much you prepare tactically, your mind is on last Tuesday's match (3-1 defeat the San Siro) - and the one we will play on Wednesday against Inter," he said.

"I had a lot of respect for this game because I played a lot of these as a player and I know how hard they are.

"Today we played thinking about Inter and it was inevitable because it's just so important for us.

"Now we have five games left, or six (depending on passage to the Champions League final), and we need one last push."