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Pep Guardiola at the Camp Nou. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

Josep Guardiola asked his team “to be courageous” in the King’s Cup Final this Friday at the Vicente Calderón against Athletic Club Bilbao. “We have to attack as much as possible, interpret what they’re doing and, on top of it all and regardless of what happens, be ourselves, we have to finish the match with the feeling that we did what we had to do. This is the final push of the year, and it’s necessary to give it everything we’ve got,” said the manager.

Athletic are a team with “soul and pride”

After assuring the packed press room that his players are “ready to play the final,” Guardiola praised various characteristics of Marcelo Bielsa’s team: “they are a young and intense team; they never make it easy. I’d highlight the soul and pride that Athletic’s players have, and I’m convinced that they won’t stop fighting to win the match. They know how to play good football, everything they do has a purpose. I imagine that he [Bielsa] has prepared his team and we’ll see if we’re capable of maintaining ball possession, but it won’t be easy.”

The Azulgrana manager is very pleased that Barça will play in another final. “I’m sure it will be beautiful,” he added. On the time his team have had to prepare for the match, Guardiola said that “the schedule is what it is. We’re very pleased to be in the Final. We got our rest and we trained well to prepare for tomorrow’s special game. We’ll be accompanied by two fantastic groups of supporters, they showed what they’re like in 2009.” On the state of the pitch after the recent concert that took place at the Calderón, the manager said that, no matter what condition it is in, “I’m sure that it will be a handicap for both teams.”

Possible booing of the anthem

On the controversy around the possible booing of the Spanish national anthem before the Cup Final, Guardiola said that, despite the fact that he’s not in favour of a repeat of what happened in 2009, he laments “that the President of the Community, after what she said, won’t attend the match.” He added, “I do, however, respect the fact that she decided not to come.”

Lastly, the Catalan manager recognised that he would have liked to make it to the Champions League Final in Munich, precisely because “we did everything to get there.” He also took the chance to congratulate the champions, Chelsea. When asked about the worst experience he has had at the Barça helm, Guardiola said “the illnesses that people we love” had to fight through.

Futsal charity match for the Marathon against Poverty

Josep Guardiola said that this Friday’s match will not be his last game seeing that FC Barcelona will play a charity indoor football match for TV3 and Catalonia Radio’s Marathon against Poverty this Sunday, May 27, at the Palau Sant Jordi. The match, however, will not feature Messi and Mascherano because both players will be with Argentina’s national side for an international match. “We’re delighted to be able to play this match. I encourage everyone to come. It’s a good cause, and I hope it’s successful,” he said.

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