Pep Guardiola. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ (FCB).

Content with what the team has done up until this point and confident with what it will do, Pep Guardiola downplayed the loss to Getafe, that left Barça six points adrift of Madrid, in the pre-game press conference ahead of the clash with Rayo. “The players are well, they’re people that are calm when things are going well, and when there’s a scare along the way or a loss they deal with it well. Yes, it’s the first time we’re at this kind of disadvantage this far into the season, although I thought this would happen in the second or third year, but we’re willing to keep on trying,” said Guardiola.

He only demands effort

The Barcelona manager hasn’t deviated from the message he gave on day one of his tenure as coach: “We’re going to work hard until the end, we’ll try and make the people that love this Club proud. The only thing I ask of the players is their effort.” With this in mind, Guardiola has a clear objective, “the challenge must be to behave like a Barça player should everyday, our challenge is continuity.” He added, “I don’t know if we’ll be champions. Will we try? I’m convinced we will.”

Barça’s good level of play

Guardiola, while admitting that the team is having difficulties winning away games, stressed that his team’s trajectory in the League has been good. “There have been moments where we have played much better than last year. We’ve won two titles against two strong teams, we’ve qualified as group winners in the Champions League with two games to go and we’re second in the League.” According to Guardiola, “we know that we’re at a good level but it’s not good enough to be first, up until now Madrid has been better by six points.”

He isn’t thinking about the Clásico

Despite his team being down six points to the current League leaders, Pep Guardiola was both optimistic and realistic at the same time: “There’s a lot of the League still yet to be played and if Madrid maintains their form it will be much more complicated. They haven’t won in a while, it’s normal that every game is important to them.” Even with the Clásico looming, the Barça boss prefers to focus on the game at hand. “There are very few teams as bold [as Rayo], let’s see if we are capable of playing better than them,” concluded Guardiola.

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