Guardiola, a la roda de premsa d'aquest divendres / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

The draw has been made for the quarter finals of the Champions League, the Copa del Rey final is not far off, and there are fewer weekends than ever left in the domestic championship. For FC Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola, "this is the moment of truth ...  From now on there is no turning the page after any setbacks." The team has to be on even better form than ever "and we have to demonstrate that again tomorrow" he said, in direct reference to Saturday's visit to the Sánchez Pizjuán.

He was speaking shortly after learning who their next European opponents will be. "We've got Milan, one of the greatest teams in European history, and who have some fantastic players. It will be a very difficult tie, but really nice at the same time. Every time we have been champions, we have beaten them. We're the champions of Europe, and to be champions again, we've got to beat the best."

Call for support

Guardiola, who previously made it clear that he'd rather not play a team they have already faced this season, is calling on the Camp Nou's support. "We need everyone's help, especially for the return leg. They'll be terribly tough matches, because Milan is a strong team in every sense. People need to charge their batteries for the quarters, because we really need them to come and support us."

Affection for Abidal

The manager commented that everyone at FC Barcelona is obviously concerned about Abidal, who the club announced on Thursday is going to require a liver transplant. "We knew there was a chance that it might repeat. He knows he has us, and everybody else, because he is much-loved person. What really matters right now is to find a solution to this illness so he can continue with his life. That's life, and he has to fight against this. Now he's ill, and he has to be cured."

Guardiola went on to say that "he has behaved impeccably. He has taught us so many things, but I imagine it's not easy for him on the inside. If he's loved so much it's because he has won that love. The Camp Nou's ovation in the semi finals of the Champions League was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. He's a very good person, and very much loved by the squad. If people love him so much it's because he has earned it, and I'm sure that that will give him a lot of strength to get through this." Guardiola also said that he has always left it up to the player to decide whether he was up to playing or not. "I am still surprised how he was able to show such willingness, so much respect for the club and his colleagues" he commented. "If it was up to him, he'd play tomorrow."

He added that the decision to renew Abidal's contract a few weeks ago "shows why this club is so different and so great. The board should be congratulated for such a gesture, for showing how well we can do things here."

“Piqué will go when he wants”

Josep Guardiola feels that at Barça there are certain players "that will leave when they want", which is the case in particular with Gerard Piqué. "There is no manager than can decide for him in that sense. He is one of those players that loves this club too much, and these players are too special. Nobody can decide for them."