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13.02.2010 13:56

“We’ll see Atlético at their best”

Roger Bogunyà

Josep Guardiola expects a tough match at Atlético Madrid. “They are always at their best against us”, he said, before adding that he was “more or less” sure who’ll start in defence.

Atlético Madrid are as unpredictable as teams come in football. They can produce great displays like the 4-3 win against Barça, or lose 3-0 away to second division Recreativo. But Guardiola knows how they always produce their best against Barça, and not only that “but their morale is in the clouds. They have qualified for their first final in ten years”. Quique Sánchez Flores’ side were vastly the better outfit in the semi final against Racing.

Defence undecided

Where Guardiola has by far the most problems is in forming his defensive line, and has ruled out playing just three at the back because “that is impossible against Atlético.” Nevertheless, he didn’t want to give away any clue about the back four he’ll be starting with, but did say “I have it more or less decided.”

The fourth man

2010-02-13_RP_GUARDIOLA_013.jpgPuyol, Milito and Maxwell will almost certainly be lining up, the question mark is over who the fourth man in the defence will be. Jeffren, who played right back against Cultural Leonesa, seems a likely choice, who Pep described as “fast, brave and daring, but that is not his natural position”.

Bartra and Muniesa, of Barça Atlètic, could make their League debuts on Sunday. Bartra is a centre back but can play as a full back, as he did in the friendly in Kuwait, and although Muniesa is also a centre back, he has played left back in the past.

Pep just said that “it is good news for Luis Enrique that two of the Barça Atlètic players are in the first team”. Of course, there is also the option of dropping Keita back into the left back position.

Avoiding anything crazy

2010-02-13_RP_GUARDIOLA_004.jpgAtlético v Barça games have, in recent years, been amazing affairs, with all kinds of manic activity on the scoreboard. The red and whites are the only side to have ever put four goals past Barça under Guardiola. The manager wants to avoid an “uncontrolled match … They lack regularity and continuity. They can play the best game in their history and then lose the next. If it is an end to end match, with no control, they are stronger than we are. We have to avoid all that”.
“We’ll see Atlético at their best”

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Not playing the victim
Despite going to the Vicente Calderón with a shortage of defenders and against a side that has just reached the cup final, Josep Guardiola has reiterated that FC Barcelona never play the victim before games. “We are Barça. We are going to win the game” he said.

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