Guardiola in the pre-match press conference / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Josep Guardiola played down Barça’s situation in La Liga, now only four points adrift of the leaders after Los Blancos were held by Valencia this weekend. The manager is very aware of the enormity of the challenge before his squad seeing that no team in the history of La Liga have ever fought back to overturn a Real Madrid 10-point lead. “It seems as though we already have it [the title], but the reality is that four points are a lot of points. There’s a lot of work to do. People need to start doing the math. We do our own calculations. I’m not interested in the calculations done 600 km away,” said the manager. He added: “this league title is practically impossible.”

Getafe takes priority

Along these lines, Guardiola insisted that “four points are a lot to fight back from” and he added that Mourinho’s side have the luxury of being able to “drop points” where as Barça cannot allow itself to lose any. “I still believe that it’s a practically impossible task,” he said. The Azulgrana manager is very clear that if his players want to have “the slightest chance at the title,” they have to win the seven remaining games left on the schedule. “You never know, but it’s evident that we cannot lose points.” In order to add to Barça’s nine-match winning streak, the team must beat Getafe tomorrow: “our job is to think that Luis García’s Getafe are coming tomorrow, they have always made it difficult for us to overcome their fantastic defence; they beat us the first time around.”

The manager urged everyone to “not confuse the situation the team is in.” He went on to say that from this point on until the end of the season that the team’s difficulties “will be greater now” as opposed to when Barça trailed by 10 points. He added that the team will be “in for a surprise” if they aren’t ready. “It’s a given that everything will be simple from now on, when the reality is that we have very tough games ahead of us,” said Guardiola. On the upcoming Clásico, Guardiola said that Madrid will come into the game “knowing that if they win they’ll be La Liga champions.”

The manager had a very clear message for his players: “the players know what I’ve told you and what we must do for the rest of the season, and that’s smiling a little less and running a little more. There has been very little relaxation in these players.” He added: “in order to win we have to run more and when the good times come, smile. What I don’t want is for my players to focus on things they shouldn’t. I want these players to have a good time, smile - but in order to win we have to run. They say that we won’t lose anymore matches for the rest of the year, I don’t know which self-help book they’re getting that from, because we have tough matches coming up. We need to be fresh and very brilliant on defence, where we’re stretched so thin.”

Piqué and Alves, doubtful

Lastly, the Barça manager said that both Gerard Piqué and Dani Avles “are doubtful” for the Getafe match. Guardiola won’t make a decision on whether to field the players until after tomorrow’s pre-match training session at the Camp Nou. On the other hand, the Competition Commission has yet to meet, which means that Cesc has yet to receive confirmation that he will be banned for one match due to picking up his fifth yellow card in the match against Zaragoza. Guardiola, however, said that “Cesc is out and he cannot play.”

The Champions League

Guardiola is prudent ahead of the Champions League semifinal clash with Chelsea: “we can lose in the Liga, and Chelsea can eliminate us. We weren’t educated that way; it’s ugly to say that we’ve already eliminated Chelsea. We only celebrate what we earn. We need to be inconspicuous  and get to work, that’s how things are won. In a two-leg playoff, we have to be wary because Chelsea have players that are capable of anything. They will be a terribly tough rival.”

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