Barcelona (FCB).- “Whatever happened before this doesn’t matter.” That’s how clear Josep Guardiola was when he was asked if FC Barcelona is favoured in this Wednesday’s Spanish Cup match because of Barça’s recent results against Real Madrid. The Barça boss will direct his team in what will be his 13th showdown against the all-whites since he arrived to the FC Barcelona bench. So far he’s won eight of those matches, drawn three and only been defeated once. Guardiola, however, isn’t thinking about past clásicos seeing that this Wednesday “we’re playing a new game.” He also warned that Real Madrid “is the strongest rival that we could possibly come across” and that against them “no one can feel as though they are favourites.”
Guardiola echoed Xavi’s point of view that Barça cannot afford to go to Madrid hoping to secure a draw even though it’s a two-legged tie. “You’re wasting your time if you go to Madrid to be prudent. The games there are eternal, and they run right over you.” The manager said that “the only way to get a good result and to have a chance in the tie is to go with the idea of winning the match.” He recalled his playing days when Barça would visit Madrid saying, “if we played thinking that we had a return leg to play we’d get burned.”
Pinto to start
Guardiola confirmed that José Manuel Pinto, traditionally the starting keeper in the Copa del Rey (the Spanish Cup), will also start at Real Madrid’s Bernabéu stadium this Wednesday night. “I’m planning on playing Pinto because he deserves it, he’s an excellent keeper.” The manager went on to say that “I’d betray myself and him” if he didn’t pick the Spaniard to start. He added, “I don’t doubt him. He doesn’t participate as much but I don’t believe anyone doubts him.” Furthermore, FC Barcelona’s deputy coach, Tito Vilanova, will also travel to Madrid. Vilanova has already been on the training pitch in the past days, after recovering from a serious surgery to remove a tumour. Guardiola was very pleased to announce Vilanova’s presence.
Abidal’s contract extension
The manager was pleased with the news about Abidal’s contract renewal: “it’s great news. Finding a player like him on the market is difficult. You know what I think about him as a person. He leaves his mark on people, and he’s a fantastic player.” The Barça boss said that having Abidal on the team allows for tactical flexibility and “variance.”
Guardiola congratulated FC Barcelona on the Cultural Formation Plan
Pep Guardiola congratulated the board of directors and the Catalan Government’s Culture Ministry for implementing the Cultural Formation Plan for the residents of La Masía (FC Barcelona’s football school). The objective of the plan is to enrich the academic and athletic lives of the young players. “Only culture will get us out of the hole we’re in. These things fill me with pride,” said Guardiola.