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Guardiola / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Barça welcome Valencia back to the Camp Nou for a vital league clash just eleven days after knocking them out of the Cup.  Josep Guardiola is in no doubt that Sunday night's encounter will be "a difficult match against a team that gave us a tough time in the Cup tie".  He insists that his team will have to pull off "a great performance" to beat third placed Valencia.

According to Guardiola, "Teams you have played against recently can make life that little bit more difficult" and called on his players to try and maintain the same standard they have shown over the last few games.  "Valencia creates problems for you out of nothing.  Although it's certain to be a complicated match, we will try and maintain the good feeling from the last few games".

The dangers of Valencia

Guardiola was asked about the dangers posed on Valencia's left wing by the pairing of Mathieu and Jordi Alba and admitted: "They attacked well there".  However, he stressed that Valencia are not a one trick team: "It's true that they create a lot of chances down that wing but we'll try and do what we always do.  We'll play our possession game".

As for Barça's position in the league, Guardiola believes that Real Madrid are too far ahead "to start thinking about hypothetical fight backs".  So he's encouraging his players "to think about something a simple as winning the next match".  "There's still a long way to go in the league, but I understand that some people might think it's very difficult.  While there is still a chance, we'll keep on playing the way we know how".

Turning to the matter of his contract renewal, Josep Guardiola admitted that he has been working on the planning of next season for some time.  He insisted that he has yet to make a decision and that it was "a personal question that doesn't have anything to do with the Club".  He admitted that he's better off at Barça than anywhere else but would like to have a little more time to decide: "It has to feel right for me.  I can't work in such a demanding Club if I'm not fully convinced that I'll have the strength to do it.   I don't want to do something if it doesn't feel right.  The Club has every right to set me a deadline, which they haven't done, and I appreciate that.  This is very demanding and I have to be convinced.

Keita returns

Guardiola also commented on the return this week of Seydou Keita from the Africa Cup of nation: "Keita has come back in very good shape, as always, very happy about his country's performance.  He's a very important player for us, both on and off the pitch, and he'll be a great help because he knows the way we work".

Finally, Guardiola gave a vote of confidence to three players from Barça B:  "Montoya is a strong right back with focus and stamina.  Bartra is a central defender, strong in the air and very fast.  Muniesa can play at centre back and full back and is tactically the best.  The Club is very fortunate to have all of them".

Double century for Messi

This Sunday will be Messi's 200th league appearance for Barça.  "That shows the magnitude of what he's doing.  He's the most competitive player that I've ever met or known".


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