Josep Guardiola press conference / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Josep Guardiola, during training / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

One question. Then another. And another. The reporters went on and on about Leo Messi's form after playing two games for Argentina against Bolivia and Colombia, and the number of kilometres he has behind him. Josep Guardiola responded that "yes, he is fit to play the full 90 minutes against Zaragoza, but we'll decide on Saturday." And then there was another question about the Argentinian. His patience tested, Guardiola then sarcastically retorted "What? Don't you want Messi to play? Is that what you want? If it is, then tell me. Won't you let me decide for myself!" The fact is that Messi is ready to play, and he can play, but Guardiola won't make the final decision until shortly before the match.

No reserves for Wednesday

He also made it patently clear that against Zaragoza he will field "everyone I think we need to win the game." He is not thinking of resting anybody with Wednesday's clash with Milan in mind. "If we drop any more points, it will be very difficult to recover them. We have seen how strong Madrid are," he said. He also spoke about how important it is to get points before the clásico, which is not always an easy thing to do mentally, because the media is always focused on the Madrid v Barça match two weeks before it's played.

Asked about the announcement on Friday of the kick off time of the clásico, Guardiola said he was pleased it would be on Saturday, not Sunday. "The sooner the better, because we have to go to Japan. Abu Dhabi was only two hours time difference. This will be a longer journey, there is a difference of seven hours. We will need some time to adapt to the new time zone." But he added that ultimately, they will play whatever game whenever they are told.

Asked about the two teams Barcelona could face in the semi finals of the Clubs World Cup, namely Al Sadd and Espérance, Guardiola said he knows most about the Qatari side, "who have changed managers and they're a top side and the strongest one they have there. These are the champions of two continents and it's a demanding enough competition as it is."

Zaragoza, prestigious opponent

But the most immediate issue is Zaragoza at the Camp Nou. "They have a very good goalkeeper, they're a very physical side. Postiga is a great player, a goalscorer, he's very quick. They're coached by a manager with a lot of experience and Unzué has spoken very highly of him. It's not long since Zaragoza were in the second division, but they're a very prestigious team," said Guardiola, who hasn't forgotten how hard it was against the Aragonese outfit last season (1-0).

Optimistic about Abidal

Another pressing matter is the renewal of Éric Abidal's contract. Guardiola is optimistic. He said "if it was for what he has done, Abidal is a unique player. And we understand that he can give us more of the same. He's physically unstoppable. The club is crazy for him to continue. I have spoken with those in charge and they tell me that the club is also grateful to him. I'd like to think he's going to stay, for the good of everybody. It was also difficult with Alves. I just ask them to work on it in silence."

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