“It will be one of the hardest excursions that we have left. We will have to play well to win,” Pep Guardiola said this afternoon ahead of the match against the only team to have beaten FC Barcelona in la Liga this season.
“A victory there would be good for us as it has always been difficult for us to win on their home ground. They have made some good players acquisition that brought with them quality and experience.”
“I do have a few thorns to pick but that loss is not one of them. Getting beaten is just a part of the game and we have not talked about it the dressing room. With only three days between matches it is necessary that the players are relaxed and not perturbed.”
“That defeat happened when some of the players had an atypical preseason. We were coming off a very successful World Cup and there were players who scarcely had trained, but Hercules won because they were just better than us. In any case that loss perhaps reawakened us.”
Having already equalled Real Madrid’s 14 consecutive League win record, FC Barcelona could break that with a win tomorrow to which the coach replied, “That statistic is outstanding. It says it all but we have to focus on overcoming Hercules and not a record.”
Guardiola made it clear the team cannot lower their guard because, among other things, their main challenger for the League title is only four points behind: “We know Madrid isn’t going to drop that many points. It is a very strong team and for the last three seasons amassed a lot of points, and we have to do the same.”
Insisting nothing is for certain, Guardiola even thinks the next Clasico will not decide the winner: “As we get closer [to that date], we’ll see what the distance is between the two, at what level we are playing then, and whether or not it is going to be decisive, but to say that it will be the decider today shows that one does not understand football. There are still a lot of matches left and the difference with Madrid is not that big.”
He also had a few words about Real Madrid’s new signing who he said is “a very good player but that Madrid is and always have been dangerous with or without Adebayor.”
Touching on the probable use of the Barnebeu as the venue for the final of the Copa del Rey and a possible match-up against Real Madrid, Guardiola said, “The venue is up to the Federation to decide. If we are lucky enough we will be there [the final]. We will go wherever it is, we will be present and will try to win the final, but first we have to get past Almeria.”
Taking a pot shot at Mourinho’s decision not to give any more press conferences, a journalist asked Guardiola how many questions had he answered this month, he replied, “I will have done 20 or 21 press conferences this month. 20 questions, and as I am generous, I let you ask me twice so that makes 40 per session. That’s 800 questions with 800 responses this month. That’s a bit excessive, yes, imagine that! I don’t even know how to answer all of them,” he joked accompanied by laughter from them.
And when one of the journalists said he couldn’t be bothered by the coach’s renewal, which he already said he wouldn’t entertain in past sessions, Guardiola again joked: “It doesn’t matter to me either.”
Moving on to questions about his players, he started off by congratulating Busquets on his renewal saying, “he is a very important player for us,” and that Adriano is a “signing that we are satisfied of.”
With regard to Dani Alves’s protracted contract negotiations, he refused to be dragged into it: “I’m off that subject. I never have nor will I ever do. That is a matter for the club.”
For the second consecutive pre-match press conference he again praised the contributions made by Seydou Keita: “The image of this team can be seen in Keita. His bad-mannered coach only played him ten, maybe fifteen minutes, but he always showed his benevolence. We hope he would be the image at which we could look back to at the end of the season.”
And on Nolito’s inclusion in the squad, he said, “We need people up front. I wish he would continue to be here next season.”