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The Barcelona coach has denied claims made by Real Madrid boss Juande Ramos this week that the current crop of players are the greatest in the team’s history...

Josep Guardiola has insisted that his side are not the best Barcelona team in history and that he does not want Espanyol to be relegated from the Primera Division.

The coach was questioned about both topics following remarks made this week, firstly by Juande Ramos, who praised Barcelona, and then by Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets, who said they would not care if Espanyol went down.

In typical style, Guardiola took a far more diplomatic view to both issues than either his opposite number at Real Madrid or his own players.

"We are not the best team in the history of Barcelona,” he told AS. “Those [teams] that won five trophies or the team of [Johan] Cruyff are the best in history, but I thank Juande for saying that we have done things well up until now.

"I said before the Copa del Rey that I expect, and would like, Espanyol to stay up. Anyway, it does matter what we think about each other, they will come to try and win."

Indeed, sitting bottom of the table at the moment, Espanyol will be looking to try and take something from the Camp Nou, even if it seems unlikely.

Guardiola praised the Catalan side and admits his team do need to be aware of the danger their city-rivals possess.

"[They are] an orderly and aggressive team” he mused. “They have many weapons. They counter-attack well and their most recent signing, Ivan Alonso, along with Raul Tamudo, will win the ball [frequently]. They also have good midfielders in Moises and Angel.

"We have to try and attack [them] better than we did in the Copa del Rey. To score three goals does not mean that we attacked well."

The coach also spoke about Samuel Eto'o, who declared this week that he does not know where his future lies.

Guardiola did not want to comment specifically on that statement, choosing to praise the striker for his professionalism.

"I do not believe anything that I read,” he said, hinting that the press were simply mischief-making. “I do not want to comment. It has been long week, there have been no games, and we cannot control what is published.

"Two weeks I said that he is better than ever and that he deserves respect. I cannot tell him, 'You are staying at Barcelona,' but he is doing well and we have to try and get the best out of him whilst we have him."

James Walker-Roberts, Goal.com

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