Josep Guardiola recalls the 2009 semi-final tie: “it was very tough, I imagine this one will be similar. In the away leg they were very defensive. In the return leg, Essien’s goal allowed them to use their greatest asset, the counterattack. After Abidal was sent off, we had difficulties, and Chelsea created a lot of counterattacks. Víctor saved us. That final exciting push at the end is what put us through.”
Josep Guardiola assured the packed press room that his team is very aware of the difficulties of tomorrow’s Champions League semi-final match at Stamford Bridge. The Azulgrana manager said that tomorrow’s match “is against one of the best teams in recent years,” and that “it will be a tie with very few goals where small details will decide which team makes it to the final.”
Guardiola recognised that it’s been difficult for him to figure out “how to create goal-scoring chances” against the English side and he warned that “in a stadium like this we must interpret the game well, if we don’t we’ll have a terrible time.” Guardiola noted that “it will be more difficult to get to the final this year,” specifically for two reasons, “first, because we are reigning champions and everyone wants to beat us, and second because we’re playing against a very good team. Lampard, Terry, Drogba... they are very important players.”
“It will be more complicated"
Guardiola said that Chelsea “are experts in a lot of things, but perhaps they haven’t had the capacity to maintain their consistency throughout a long competition, but in a shorter one they are one of the most dangerous sides.” The manager is convinced that his team “must have the capacity to interpret the game well or we’ll have a terrible time.” He added, “the only thing I’m sure of is that this will be more complicated than the tie in 2009.”
Chelsea, with the same spirit
When asked about the changes this Chelsea side presents to the one in 2009, Guardiola said “they have the same spirit. We admire these unique footballers that have maintained themselves over the years. They’re competitive in the Premier League and in Europe. We can only admire these players. They’ve had different managers, but the core and the spirit is the same.”
Finally, in response Ibrahimovic’s claim that Barça’s players dive, Guardiola said “he played with these players, he’s very aware of the quality they have. They get the ball and they pass it; they don’t dive.”