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Guardiola during the game against Al-Sadd / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

"Upset." That was the way Josep Guardiola described the atmosphere among the players right now. Not because of the match, which was a wonderful win in the Club World Cup semi final against Al-Sadd, but because of the loss of key striker David Villa to a serious tibia injury. The manager said "he has been working so hard and so long, but now will be without him for a very long time." Villa will clearly be missed, "first as a colleague and also as a player," and all Guardiola could promise is that the players hope that his operation goes as smoothly as possible and that they will be waiting to welcome him back "with open arms."

No substitutes

He was also asked whether the club is likely to look for possible substitutes to cover for Villa's key position in the centre of the Barça attack. "Let's be sensitive here," he answered. "There's a lad flying back to Barcelona with an injury, and I think he'll be out of action for quite a long time. Let's not talk about substitutes ... David is a very popular person, and a sensitive lad. The players are upset. These losses leave you sick, unhappy, empty. Everybody puts themselves in his shoes and knows how much he's going to suffer. Now he's going to fly back to Barcelona with a doctor and someone else, just when the team is fighting to be the best in the world. I'm so sorry, and we have to cheer him up. I want him to know that we're waiting for him."

Against nine men in the area

As for the 4-0 win against Al-Sadd, Guardiola said he was especially pleased for today's goalscorers, Adriano, Keita and Maxwell, and said one of the keys to the game was "interpreting things right, given that they had nine men packed in their area ... Al-Sadd is a very aggressive team, with very fast players on the counter attack, and we knew we had to be patient. They didn't even shoot in the second half. If we hadn't attacked so well, this game might have been more difficult than it looked. But we read the game well, and we're delighted to be in the world final."

Finally, Guardiola spoke about the team they'll face on Sunday: "Santos is a historic team. In their time, Pelé and other players made them a big name. We are lucky to be in this final. I haven't seen anything of Santos at all yet. Tomorrow I'll start working on them and deciding what we have to do to beat them."


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