Josep Guardiola hasn’t been distracted. On Saturday, Barça can go a big step further to the league title at Anoeta, and the coach guarantees that his players’ only concern is that game.
He didn’t want to answer any questions with respect to next Tuesday’s Champions League
semi final, because for him right now, the league is the “absolute priority. We have to be
very aware that much of the league title depends on what we do at what is always a tough ground. If
we don’t focus our five senses on that, we won’t do it. Tomorrow we’re playing
for a competition that lasts 11 months. It was hard against Almeria, against Osasuna, and I sense
this game will also be difficult. Mathematically we are seven points away from the league title and
every win means a huge step”.
He went on to say that “we have to find strength from wherever, we
know that if we win we’ll practically be there”. He is asking his players for a special
effort, but “they know that we are playing for the most important title of the year, one
which shows regularity, effort and work, and that makes you feel the proudest. With the league
title so close, there is no such thing as distractions. These three points can take us nearer to
the title. At this point, there is no such thing as either physical or mental tiredness”.
Not letting go
Guardiola said that after Anoeta, Barça host Espanyol, and he would rather go into
the derby with the same lead they have now. “Playing the derby with an 8-point lead would be
comforting. It is the competition that we are most excited about and I don’t want to lose it
through our own fault, or for us to do that because our minds are on other things. If we win
tomorrow, the job is almost done”.
Support for the Board
Asked about the official complaint issued by the club against Real
Madrid and José Mourinho’s accusations in his post-match press conference at the Bernabéu,
the manager said: “I can only support the decisions of the Board of Directors. I defend my
institution. I have always been supported by the club’s directors. I have never felt alone or
Asked about the next opponents, Real Sociedad, Guardiola said “they are a
similar team to that in the first match. They’re enthusiastic. They’re an intense team,
who play well down the wings. In Tamudo they have a striker who always scores goals and they have
some local players that will want to make sure their team stays in the first division”.
He ended by mentioning four specific players. Puyol has not been picked
so he can get some rest. Messi has taken a couple of knocks and didn’t train on Friday, and
so “we’ll have a look on Saturday and make our evaluation … but I don’t
want my players to reserve anything because of things we have to do in the future”. Sergi
Roberto, who is in the squad, he described as having “strength and a promising future”.
And as for a possible return of Abidal, Guardiola said “I’d never play him unless there
was a 0% chance of any risk”.