The manager doesn’t want his players to miss out on the chance to secure a place in the last sixteen of the Champions League against Viktoria, and says that the next objective will be to top the group.
The Barça manager knows that a win in the Czech Republic “would mean we would have definitely qualified with two games in hand in a competition that will start again in February”. He feels that the chance they have at the Eden Stadium “should not be wasted”. He then added that “after that, against Milan and Bate, we’ll try to finish top of the group”.
In a similar vein, Barça will hope to do at Viktoria Plzen something they have never done under Guardiola – win the fourth game in the group stage and also do the double over the team that they meet in back-to-back matches in the middle of the schedule. “We have always found things harder in Europe than anywhere else and we have to take this chance. Qualifying is the main objective, and the sooner you have these things sorted, the better” he insisted.
Barça’s manager then said that Viktoria Plzen is one of the teams ““which has made us run the most”, but admitted that already having played them once made it a lot easier to prepare for this match. Guardiola said that “it helped to interpret the possibility that we have ahead us… The teams are stronger in Europe, they’re more physical, more powerful and I suspect tomorrow will be no exception. We have always struggled against teams from the north. This game will be one more test of what we need to do to move onward, to play better, more consistently, and to become a better and better team”.
200 games in charge
Tuesday’s game will be Guardiola’s 200th as Barça manager: “I am proud to have been here so long. I am proud to have trained these players, from the first to the last. They have made me better as a manager. When you win 12 titles out of 15, it’s because you haven’t lost many games.”
But he says it’s too early for evaluations: “While you’re still here, it’s not a good idea to look back at such a long process. There are times things went wrong and they were difficult. Of course I’m proud to have been here so long, to have had some good games and to have made the people happy. When I’m not here any more there will be more time to think about what has happened.”
As for Xavi missing the recent game with Mallorca, Guardiola pointed out that “two years ago, in Villarreal, he was worse than he was the other day and he played … He’s not injured, but his soleus is suffering from fatigue and is causing him some trouble. He’s got better. We’ll look at him in training and decide tomorrow”.
Alexis, “a bad patient”
Finally, he was asked why Alexis Sánchez was in the team when he had not yet been declared fit.
The boss aid it was “so that he can be with the rest of his team mates … Alex is a bad
patient. He is very good at what he does but he really doesn’t need to be out of action for
so long. The way he plays is the way he lives. It was a very serious injury, and he’s been
out for two months …. We don’t want him to get hurt again but his recovery is very