With Barca’s South American contingent busy with the World Cup qualifiers and Cuenca and Thiago summoned for Spain under-21 duty, Pep Guardiola found himself in a quandry. So much so that the club had to request the national teams of Spain, France and Mali that they allow the players to stay with the club so as to have at least the mandatory seven players from the first team to compete in the first round of the Copa del Rey in which Barca face L’Hospitalet, a team from Division 2B. “The team we will be taking will be Barça … Barça will be taking 13 first team players and 5 fantastic reserve team players will be there to help,” he said. “I feel quite confident playing with reserve and youth team players. They give their all because that is their desire.”
Guardiola stated that no matter in which tier of the Spanish league its opponents ply their trade, his squad will never walk into a game thinking that it will be an easy match. Never to take any match lightly, Guardiola reminded the press about the well-contested games the club had had earlier against lower-league sides like Benidorm, Cultural Leonesa and Ceuta. He added that “we have also played on artificial grass before, so that’s no excuse. We have played in all possible conditions and have always adapted, so tomorrow will be no exception … the most important thing is for the people coming to the stadium to enjoy a good match and we will be trying to get the best result we can.”
Judging by joyous reaction of L’Hospitalet after drawing Barca in the Copa del Rey, Barca’s neighbours are going to put their best foot forward for the encounter. Meanwhile Guardiola is hopeful that the squad at his disposal ensure that the viewers are treated to a good game. The manager said that tonight’s game “will be a nice game, and good to watch“. It’d be made more so because L’Hospitalet’s manager, Jordi Vinyals, ensures that his side “play the game they have to“. Added Guardiola, “It’ll be intense” and “they are strategically strong“.
He may not have the strongest side going into the match but Guardiola said that the remainder of “the players will give a lesson about who they are. It is very good for the club that they’ll do that, because over time future generations will know that there were once players here who did just that. I am convinced that they will approach the match with the same intensity with which they have been training over the last two days.”
The focus shifted to La Liga, where FC Barcelona find themselves three points behind the rivals, Real Madrid. Commenting on the situation, Guardiola said that “if they have three points on us it’s because they’ve done things better than we have … we can only promise that we’ll fight until the end, we want to do what we have done in all competitions for the last four years … If we don’t win, we’ll congratulate our opponent because it’ll mean they have done better.”
Guardiola also clarified on Villa’s health stating that Villa “has a little issue with his tibia … He’s getting by because he’s so strong. He’ll be there tomorrow to give us a hand, he’s very competitive, and he has won everything that he has.”
Source: www.fcbarcelona.cat; Image credit: Miguel Ruiz