Guardiola and the first-team captains during the minute of silence in memory of Dani Montesinos / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Josep Guardiola knows that tomorrow’s match at El Madrigal will be difficult. “In the last couple of years it’s been a difficult ground for us, it won’t be any different this time,” explained the Barça manager. He added that “their position in the standings does not correspond to the quality of the players they have or to their recent history.” Despite missing key players to injury, Barça’s opponent this Saturday “continues to play football very well.”

He calls on the youngsters to be bold

Guardiola has had to piece together a team for matchday 21 of the league after Iniesta and Alexis were injured in the Cup match midweek. The Barça manager included Cuenca, Sergio Robetro, Cristian Tello and Jonathan Dos Santos in his team along with the 14 available first-team players. Guardiola know’s exactly what he wants from the youngsters: “you can expect things from players that don’t get the call-up regularly. They must be themselves. They mustn’t be afraid, they need to be bold and they must help us in everything.”

On Cuenca, who will sign a contract extension next week that will keep him at the Club until 2015, Guardiola confirmed that the striker now forms part of the first team: “he’s new and he plays really well in his position. He is helping us and I hope he will continue help us.”

The manager admitted that after the Cup match on Wednesday that his team has not had much time to rest. However, he said his players are used to the demanding schedule: “I always think that it’s better to play a match after ensuring qualification. It’s true that we have not had much time to rest, but we are accustomed [to the schedule]. We know what we must do. The second part of the season is about to start and we will try to focus on whatever match we have next and go as far as we can.”

The importance of making post-match conclusions

On the game against Real Madrid, the Barça manager understands that Los Blancos, despite being eliminated from the Cup, “have a good taste in their mouths, because they played a good game.” He added: “in a tie that lasts 180 minutes it’s impossible to completely dominate a team like Madrid. But you have to make conclusions after each game in order to process and move forward.”

Minute of silence in memory of the journalist Dani Montesinos

A minute of silence was observed in memory of journalist Dani Montesinos before Guardiola’s pre-match press conference. Besides journalists from different news outlets and the Barça manager, the captains of the first team, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta and Valdés, were also present for the minute of silence. “It’s a shame, a terrible loss. I think he’s been to just about every press conference. There isn’t a bigger embrace that we could give to his whole family,” said Guardiola