Guardiola during the matcha against Valencia at the Camp Nou / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Visibly pleased with his team after the King’s Cup semifinal match against Valencia, Josep Guardiola highlighted his squad’s performance both in Mestalla last Wednesday and at the Camp Nou tonight: “in Valencia we played an extraordinary game, and today we did it again. We generated a lot of football, with an almost infinite amount of plays. Save the first minutes of each half, when we could go at them we had the game and we didn’t let it slip away.” Having reached his third Cup final in four years, the Barça manager said, “it’s a great achievement,” and, at the same time, it says “a lot about the players.”

“When you’re tempted to doubt a player, to say that they are tired or comfortable, count to five or six and think about how some people regard this competition as the least prestigious, the one that’s least valuable, we’ve reached the final three out of four years,” he said.

Guardiola has no doubts that this Cup final will be a “marvelous spectacle.” He added: “we’re very excited to play against Athletic. We’ve happy to have another final saved away. It’s a final with the teams that have the most titles in the competition. I believe it will be fascinating, because I haven’t seen a team that plays into space like Athletic. They will come for us, and we’ll do the same. It’ll be a beautiful final for spectators that will give prestige to the competition.”

“Calm happiness”

When asked about how his team is doing after tonight’s win, the manager said: “they’re calm. Happy, knowing that they won the tie. I’d say that they are pleased, but calm, they did what they had to do.”

After highlighting the team’s collective play, Guardiola had special words of praise for Thiago, “he had an extraordinary match, he played like a man. He audaciously played in a position that he’s not used to.” He also talked about Pinto, “he was impeccable,” especially with his foot work. “In four years he’ll have played three finals, and that says a lot about his personality, his strength,” he added.

Keep the pressure up in La Liga until the end

Finally, Guardiola talked about his team’s situation in the Liga: “it’s normal that in La Liga we’re below a team like Real Madrid. We’re in a tough situation in the competition. It’ll be very difficult to reach them. We have to force them to win it. We have put pressure on them. In the end, these players challenge themselves.”

Bartomeu: “We are very please to know in February that we have another final”

The first vice-president said he was satisfied with Barça reaching the King’s Cup final: “the objective was to reach the final and it hasn’t been easy, because Valencia is a very tough rival. We are very please to know in February that we have another final.” Josep Maria Bartomeu publicly congratulated the coaching staff and the players “because maintaining this level of demand and motivation each game is not simple.”

He also thanked the 69,474 spectators that watched the game in the Camp Nou despite the cold. Finally, Bartomeu is confident that Athletic Club Bilbao will be “a very complicated rival” in the final.