Guardiola not clearing any mantle space for a trophy
Updated: 2012-04-11 06:54
By Agence France-Presse in Madrid (China Daily)
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (front) and Cesc Fabregas celebrate a goal against Real Zaragoza during their Spanish league match at La Romareda stadium in Zaragoza on Saturday. Albert Gea / Reuters
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola reiterated on Monday that he thought it was virtually impossible for his side to overhaul bitter rival Real Madrid and retain its La Liga title.
The 41-year-old saw Barcelona move within four points of leader Real over the weekend after the Catalans beat Real Zaragoza 4-1 on Saturday and Madrid was held 0-0 by Valencia on Sunday.
But despite having seen the gap - which stood at 10 points in February - reduced to just four points, and with a game between the two sides to come a week from Saturday, Guardiola was still not having any talk of landing the title.
"I maintain that it is almost impossible for us to win La Liga," said Guardiola, who was speaking ahead of Tuesday's home league game against Getafe.
"One mustn't lose sight of who our rival is. Never in history has any team come back from a 10-point deficit to Real Madrid."
Guardiola, who is out of contract in the summer and has yet to sign a new deal, was at pains to focus the minds of both the public and his players on the immediate task at hand.
The game against Getafe gives Barca the chance to reduce the gap at the top to a single point, piling pressure on Real before it plays city rival Atletico on Wednesday.
"What is important to me is not to talk about Real but to win (Tuesday) against Getafe," said Guardiola, whose side was already through to the Spanish Cup final and also plays Chelsea in the Champions League semifinals as it bids to become the first side to retain the trophy.
"My players know already what awaits them at the climax of a really difficult season: to smile less and run more.
"I obviously belong in the camp of those who like to take pleasure out of how we play, but if we wish to win the remaining La Liga games (seven remain), it is vital to run and run, and to be brilliant."
Guardiola said he was especially concerned about the fitness of several of his defenders, with French veteran Eric Abidal out for the rest of the season as he awaits a liver transplant and both Dani Alves and Gerard Pique in doubt for the Getafe game with thigh injuries.
"We are stretched to the limit in defense," he said.
"I have only three fully fit defenders. Pique and Alves are extremely doubtful.
"I don't believe they will be able to play against Getafe, but we will see tomorrow."
(China Daily 04/11/2012 page22)