Catalan cannot wait for his team to take to the pitch against Madrid at Camp Nou tomorrow and qualify for the final of the competition and is also pleased with Uefa’s decision
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is looking forward to their Champions League encounter with Real Madrid on Tuesday evening and believes that Uefa were right not to listen to complaints lodged against them.
Madrid reported Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Jose Pinto, Seydou Keita and Victor Valdes for unsporting behaviour in their 2-0 defeat to Barca in the first-leg of their semi-final tie at the Santiago Bernabeu last week. The capital club also released video footage claiming that Busquets had thrown a racist slur toward full-back Marcelo.
“When you make these complaints, it’s because you believe them to be true,” Guardiola told reporters in the pre-match press conference on Monday. “They may think we’re not fair and I think the opposite. I know my players much better than their legal department. At this club we transmit certain values to our people. The Madrid manager [Jose Mourinho] was here for four years and he knows that.”
“Real Madrid have 109 years of history but they do not have the power to decide who plays and who doesn’t, it is decided by Uefa. We do not decide or judge.”
Responding to accusations about his own role, Guardiola stated: “They would have to know what I said, but they don’t know what message I gave –only my players know that”.
Moving to matters on the pitch, Guardiola urged caution despite the healthy first-leg lead and stated: “As Aitor [Karanka] said, there are 109 years of history between us. 11 extraordinary players are going to come out, guided by a very competitive manager who wants to knock us out. The most important thing in their lives right now is this game.”
The Catalan continued: “I don't know what Madrid to expect. They have such a strong team and so many players that they can play in several ways. This is a very tough semi-final tie. We shall see how strong mentally we are tomorrow. I know the fans will help us especially if things get tough.
“I imagine that we have to be very focused because it'll be tough, mentally speaking. We will have to move the ball fast and I am sure there will be a lot of anxiety but the fans will be there to help us. I want to thank them for this in advance and I want to thank the players for letting me experience this match. We want to try to reach the final again this season and I am very eager for the match to start, for the world to see it and to reach the final.
“We have to be prepared for anything tomorrow: they can attack or defend, but we have to be ready for anything. Tomorrow Madrid will play the match of a lifetime to try to get to the final. They have a good enough squad to make life tricky for us.”
Speaking on the return of defender Eric Abidal into the squad after his recovery from surgery to remove a tumour, Guardiola enthused: “There are two bits of news here. Firstly, that we play in the semi-finals of the Champions League tomorrow and secondly that we have a guy who has had cancer and he’s back with us.
“Medically, he’s perfectly okay, he’s lost weight and he’s not ready for 90 minutes yet, but when the fans come along, they’ll see him on the bench and give him a great reception. We are all very happy about it.”