Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola has stated that tomorrow’s match against Osasuna will be “a good acid test” for his team before the new league break in November, according to Catalan sports daily El Mundo Deportivo. “We’re going to a venue that is historically a hard place (to win) and they are having their best moments this season. Camacho (Osasuna coach) saved their season last season and are currently doing very well,” he said.
Guardiola has reminded the press that Osasuna have only lost to Sevilla this season, and emphasized on the contributions made by Walter Pandiani, a player “with 14 years of scoring goals experience.” He also mentioned the team’s “aggressive” attitude when playing: “Facing Osasuna will demand a lot from us. If we don’t take the initiative early, we could fall for their rhythm and they are very difficult to stop. Their wings are very aggressive and (their forwards) Aranda and Pandiani are doing fine. Their midfield (Camuñas and Juan Fran) meanwhile are tricky and very direct. They can do you harm,” insisting, “It’s an important game, a difficulty test for us before our match in Russia. Getting into a good dynamic will only be good for the decisive match against Kazan,” Guardiola said, recalling how last year, Barcelona “was in danger of losing (to Osasuna): “This is a match that carries with it (a lot of) risk”.
In the conference, Guardiola also defended Thierry Henry, who just received a medical discharge after being out for two weeks, and could return with the first eleven tomorrow. “Henry will silence a lot of people,” predicted the coach, who sees the criticisms made against the player as valid considering Henry is playing in a team made up of stars but still acknowledged that Henry is “a player from another level.” The Barcelona coach also recalled how the French striker played in the final of the Champions League even though he was not fully fit, saying: “in key moments of the season, we will see the best from Henry.” In any case, Guardiola had made it clear that he is “satisfied” with Henry performances and in no case raised the possibility of Pedro Rodriguez being his replacement.
“Pedro has a lot to learn to reach the level of Henry. He has done everything in football, has given us a lot and will continue to do so,” he insisted.
Briefly touching on his players’ contract renewals before concluding the interview, Guardiola said he was pleased with Carles Puyol’s official contract signing and with the pace of Rafael Marquez’s contract negotiations.