The Barça manager said that his players are aware that they cannot allow anymore points to slip by if they want to keep their title hopes alive. He also talked about Xavi’s improved fitness, saying that he deserved and needed a break. The midfielder was on the bench against Valencia.
From now until the end of the season, every game Barça plays will be crucial to keep title hopes alive on all three fronts: Cup, League, and Champions League. The team is seven points adrift from the top in La Liga and they cannot let anymore points slip by. Pep Guardiola was very clear in today’s pre-game press conference: “I will ask the players to be who they have been in the past. We know we’re almost past the point of no return. It’s not a time for words, it’s time to play the best we possibly can and win, taking it one game at a time.”
The Barça manager said he won’t be paying attention to the Getafe-Madrid match, which will be finishing up just before Barça takes the field. “We have to be concerned about winning our game, that’s the only thing we can do.” He went on to say: “our game plan is to do our job in the best way we can, like we always have. We’ll see how things go from now on.”
Despite the missed penalty against Valencia, the manager is clear: “Leo is a player that is always above average. He’s always ready to play, he’s very, very competitive. Sometimes he takes on responsibilities that he shouldn’t, but you know my opinion, he always plays well. He always scores goals or gives them,” he told the packed press room. Furthermore, Guardiola also highlighted the Argentine’s record from the penalty spot: “Messi’s statistics, taking the shot with so much pressure on him, are spectacular.”
The manager also talked about Xavi’s fitness, the midfielder was on the bench against Valencia midweek: “he’s better. The break was very beneficial. We all think that he can cope with everything, he’s very reliable, but he’s had four years without any breaks and sometimes the body asks you to stop a little. He was fit today.” Guardiola also praised Alexis, saying that the “effort he puts in brutal” seeing that he’s still struggling with clavicle pain.
On Real Sociedad, Barça’s rival tomorrow, Guardiola said, “they play the ball well from the back and they come at you from the wings and the middle.” He added: “they’ve only lost one game out of their last nine. They are a classic team and it’s great that they are in the Primera division.” Despite the very cold weather, the manager called on Barça fans to attend the Camp Nou tomorrow: “if they come, they should bring a coat. I hope they attend, but I understand [if they don’t], the forecast says it will be very cold.”
Pep's goal celebration in Mestalla
Pep Guardiola explained his celebration when Puyol scored the equalizer at Mestalla. The manager, pointed to the pitch with a hint of rage: “I wasn’t expecting the pitch to be so dry, but they have every right keep it like that. It’s their house, and they call the shots. We have to adapt.” (via FCBarcelona.cat)