Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has discussed his side’s trip to the Basque country this weekend to face Athletic Bilbao, and confessed he is preparing his side for a difficult encounter.
The Blaugrana head to San Mames without striker Lionel Messi, who is still recovering from the ankle knock sustained in the victory over Atletico Madrid last weekend, and Guardiola is under no illusions how difficult it will be to leave with a victory.
He told journalists: “I expect an intense match. They played direct football, and in that sense they are superior and want to take the match to their opponents.
“If we dominate with our passing game then we can beat them. We are in a good mood. I am not unhappy with how we are playing at the moment. This league will be well matched, and everybody can beat everybody else, with each game difficult to win.”
Guardiola also quashed suggestions that if his side fail to beat los Leones, it will be a result of their short pre-season preparations due to his players' World Cup exploits.
He added: “The season after the World Cup is usually different from others. The preparation is not what we have wanted, but if we do not win at San Mames, it will not be because of pre-season.”