Guardiola pessimistic on Barcelona's title challenge

The Blaugrana reduced their deficit to Real Madrid to seven points, albeit having played one game more than their rivals, with a comfortable win at the Sanchez Pizjuan
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola reiterated that his team's intention to fight right until the end of the season in order to hold on to their La Liga crown after Saturday night's 2-0 victory over Sevilla - but conceded that their never-say-die spirit is unlikely to be enough to deny Real Madrid the title.

The Blaugrana's comfortable win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan means that they have closed to within seven points of Los Blancos ahead of their rivals' meeting with fourth-placed Malaga at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday evening.

However, while Guardiola insists that he has not given up on the title, he hinted that he cannot foresee Madrid collapsing.

"We're just here to do our job," the former Spain international told reporters during his post-game press conference.

"You already know my opinion on the league: we'd love to compete for the league right until the end but I don't think that's going to be possible.

"We just have to compete in every game, like we have done."

Barca were two goals up inside 25 minutes against Sevilla, with Xavi curling in a free-kick before Lionel Messi doubled his side's advantage with another brilliant goal.

The visitors appeared to ease off thereafter but Guardiola claimed otherwise and claimed that he was, for the most part, satisfied with the Blaugrana's performance.

"We had the whole week to prepare, which was good as it allowed us to recharge our batteries but that made it a little bit difficult to get into the game," the 41-year-old coach mused.

"However, once we did, we played well. I don't think a game of football you take it easy at any moment. You give everything from the first minute to the last minute.

"We didn't kill the game off given the chances we had. [Sevilla goalkeeper Andres] Palop again had a fantastic game. He saved them on several occasions when we had one-on-ones.

"In that situation we could have controlled the game if we'd opened up a bigger advantage. But right until the end the game was open. They had a few chances and they could have scored.

"The Sanchez Pizjuan is a difficult stadium to play in and you never know how it's going to end. But I think that in the end we played very well, particularly in the first half, and we're happy to have won here.

"In Sevilla they've got a great team with a really good coach [Michel]. I think if we've won here it's because we've played well. If you don't play well here, they can make life difficult for you.

"One year we won 3-0 in the second season we won the league and they created a lot of problems for us with ten. They're a good side and that's why we really value this victory.

"We had plenty of chances and we should have had more goals. We could have killed the game off earlier."

Meanwhile, Guardiola admitted that Barca's players are still coming to terms with the news that defender Eric Abidal requires a liver transplant.

"Every day we think about Abi," the former B team coach admitted. "It's the first time since his illness was made public that he hasn't been with us."

Barcelona return to La Liga action against Granada at Camp Nou on Tuesday evening.

Between November and February, published 10 exclusive extracts from Graham Hunter's highly anticipated new book, 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World'. Click here to read all 10 extracts. Don't miss it!