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Guardiola, during the press conference in Milan / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Josep Guardiola is convinced that his side will have to put in a near perfect performance at the San Siro if Barça is to take top stop in the group. The Barça boss said "we can't start off playing at 70 or 80% of our potential," while warning that Milan "is a team that is used to playing possession football and they are good with dead balls." However, the manager said that his team will not sacrifice their footballing identity to get a good result, "we will be ourselves when we go out onto the pitch. We are not playing for a draw, we want to win," said Guardiola.

Footballing tradition

The Barça manager is certain that “it’s always better to finish top of the group than second,” principally because finishing first ensures playing the return leg of the knock-out round at home. “When you play against an opponent like Milan there is a sense of tradition, of history... It’s a real honour to play against such a prestigious rival. The most important thing for us is to give a good impression in front of a country with a rich footballing tradition and against such a historic team like Milan,” said Guardiola. He also added that this would be “a good test” for upcoming Champions League matches.

When asked about how he would handle a hypothetical meeting with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Guardiola said that the most important thing is that their encounter must be natrual. The Barça manager added, “if we meet I’ll be spontaneous and I’ll greet him. He’s a formidable player, and he helped us a lot during his time at Barcelona. I don’t have any problems with Mr Ibrahimovic. I’ve said it before, being real and natural is the most important thing. If we meet, we’ll act like the sportsmen that we are.”

Encouragement for Tito Vilanova

The main focus of today’s press conference was on Tito Vilanova, who successfully underwent surgery for a parotid gland problem this Tuesday. Guardiola was thankful for all the support his assistant received, support that shows “the affection people have for him.” Guardiola went on to say that Vilanova “is an extraordinary person, he’s very strong. Now we can only wait and hope that everything goes well post-operation so he can start to live a normal life again.”

The human quality of the group

Lastly, when asked if Abidal’s sickness last year had prepared the squad to handle the current situation with Tito Vilanova, Guardiola said: “Both cases are similar. Obviously these are two different types of diseases, the impact on the team is hard. Abidal recovered and Tito will as well. Tito and his family are the most important things. We’re part of his small world. The human group of FC Barcelona is extraordinary, mature, and will face this situation as the fantastic people that they are.”

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