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Guardiola / FOTO: ARCHIVE FCB

Josep Guardiola did not want to speak too much about matters regarding Barça’s future because he does not feel that he is the right person to do so. But he did say at today’s press conference that Tito Vilanova, his successor, "is staying because he feels strong. It is a sign of how brave and courageous he is.” He also answered a question about the apparent distance between himself and his assistant. "At this stage in time I don’t have to justify anything about my relationship with Tito,” he said. “Please let my relation with him to be the one we want, and not the one you want it to be”.

Valdés to play in Seville

With Pinto sidelined from the Betis match with a sprained ankle, Guardiola confirmed that his starting goalkeeper on Saturday will be Víctor Valdés, as well as hinting that the former’s injury is not a major one. "If there are no after-effects, then he’ll be fit to play in the cup final” he said.

Also, although neither Barça nor Betis have much at stake in this weekend’s game, he insisted that both clubs would be keen to see the league season out with a decent game. "They are a demanding team, and they can do you damage if you aren’t at your best,” he said. “And it will serve as good preparation for two week’s time. We have another final”.

Peak condition

Barça will then have a whole fortnight to get ready for the showdown with Athletic Club on May 25 at the Vicente Calderón. Guardiola has denied rumours that the team will be playing any friendly matches in the meantime, and instead commented on how they will have to adapt to an unusually long period of preparation time. But at the end of the day, "the most important challenge for us right now is to be in our very finest condition for the final”.

Villa, Alexis and Puyol

Guardiola also spoke about some of the individuals in his squad. On Villa, the manager said "the player is developing well. But the doctors are in a better position than I am to talk about his chances of being able to play”. As for Alexis, unless there are any unexpected setbacks, "he’ll be fit to play in the final". The manager added that he has no doubt that Carles Puyol will be back to his old self next season, saying "he recovered magnificently from his last injury and he’s done some amazing things for us this season. If Carlos is fit, he’ll want to play.”

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