The former Spain international has been accused of throwing away the Catalans' La Liga hopes by resting players for Tuesday night's clash with the German sideBarcelona coach Pep Guardiola has insisted that he is both unsurprised and unperturbed by the criticism which followed Saturday's shock defeat by Osasuna.
The defeat in Pamplona has left the Catalans ten points adrift of La Liga leaders Real Madrid, and the former B team coach received some flak for his team selection at Reyno de Navarra.
The suggestion is that the Camp Nou chief had effectively handed the title to Los Blancos by electing to leave some key players on the bench ahead of Tuesday night's Champions League meeting with Bayer Leverkusen.
However, Guardiola insists that he remains completely unaffected by the controversy, and feels that in light of Barca's remarkable run of success in recent seasons, it deserves a little leeway.
"I did not mind what was said after Pamplona," the former B team coach told reporters in Leverkusen on Monday evening. "Not having won, I thought that I'd find myself in a situation like this. But winning 13 of a possible 16 titles shows that we do not throw anything away."
Guardiola also rubbished the assumption that because Barcelona's hopes of winning La Liga now appear to be over, that it will automatically retain its European crown.
"People think that because the league is now very difficult, we will win the Champions League," he went on. "And that if we do not win, it's a failure - as if it were simple. I don't understand that. The goal is to compete well, as in the second part in Pamplona, and see how far we get. We will evaluate [our performances] at the end of the season."
Guardiola also pointed to the strength of the field as an obstacle in retaining the Champions League title.
"This Champions League is as difficult as the two we won [in 2009 and 2011] and also the one we lost in the semis against Inter [in 2010]," he explained. "Since Milan's victories [in 1989 and 1990], nobody has defended the title, but I do not need the Champions League to prove our strength to me. These players have already shown what their level is."
Despite his continued faith in his side, Guardiola admits that he is wary of the threat posed by the side blocking its path into the quarterfinals.
"My biggest concern is knowing Leverkusen well; being aware of their virtues," the former Spain international explained. "They will be stronger than us when we do not have possession. That will lead to us giving away fouls and corners. And they are very dangerous in the air. If we do not have control [of the ball], we will have problems."
Barcelona will host Leverkusen in the second leg at Camp Nou on March 7.
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