Head coach Pep Guardiola spoke at his last pre-match press conference on Thursday before the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao. The soon-to-resign coach emphasized his players need “to be courageous” against their Basque counterparts.
Guardiola has a clear strategy entering the final game of the 2011-12 season, especially when facing a tough team like Bielsa’s Bilbao. “We have to attack as much as possible, interpret what they’re doing and, on top of it all and regardless of what happens, be ourselves, we have to finish the match with the feeling that we did what we had to do,” El Mister said. “This is the final push of the year, and it’s necessary to give it everything we’ve got.”
While Guardiola ensured that his players are “ready to play the final,” he also stated that Bilbao is just as prepared. “They are a young and intense team; they never make it easy,” Guardiola said. “I’d highlight the soul and pride that Athletic’s players have, and I’m convinced that they won’t stop fighting to win the match. They know how to play good football, everything they do has a purpose. I imagine that he [Marcelo Bielsa, Athletic Bilbao head coach] has prepared his team and we’ll see if we’re capable of maintaining ball possession, but it won’t be easy.”
The coach did not lament the scheduling of the match too much, saying “the schedule is what it is. We’re very pleased to be in the Final. We got our rest and we trained well to prepare for tomorrow’s special game. We’ll be accompanied by two fantastic groups of supporters, they showed what they’re like in 2009.”
The pitch was another issue of contention, as a rock concert had just taken place. “I’m sure that it will be a handicap for both teams,” Guardiola said.
As far as the possible booing of that Spanish national anthem by Catalan and Basque fans in Madrid, Guardiola said he was disappointed “that the President of the Community, after what she said, won’t attend the match. I do, however, respect the fact that she decided not to come.”
Although Guardiola felt that Barcelona “did everything to get [to the Champions League final],” he congratulated recent winners Chelsea.
The coach also mentioned his worst experience as the Barcelona coach was “the illnesses that people we love” have suffered.
However, putting all of the disappointing points of the season behind him, Guardiola said of his final game at the helm, “I’m sure it will be beautiful.”
Source: fcbarcelona.cat; Photo credit: REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino