La Liga Daily: Guardiola’s hands cup-tied for midweek as milestones approach

Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola faced the press this week ahead of the midweek Copa del Rey clash with Ceuta at Camp Nou with another landmark on the horizon.

The club’s next victory will see Guardiola reach a milestone, currently with Barcelona on 99 wins from 138 games under the Coach. The weekend saw win 99 recorded, as Barca defeated Getafe 3-1 with arguably their strongest performance of the season.

The side put in 74% possession in a first half they dominated and should have led by more than the two goals the emerging partnership of Lionel Messi and David Villa are forming managed to produce. The second half was marred in Barca’s viewpoint with Gerard Pique’s dismissal for two yellow cards, the second one after conceding a penalty.

Guardiola faced questions on the standard of the weekend’s refereeing and recurring topics Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid but casually declined both lines of questioning explaining why he hasn’t seen fit to respond to previous questions on the Portuguese Coach too: “I don’t come to press conferences with anything premeditated. If I do not answer it is because I believe there is nothing worth saying, in the case of Mourinho or any person.”

Looking ahead to the midweek cup tie, Guardiola interestingly spoke of being restricted in selecting as many of the youth players for the competition as he had wanted. Competition rules limit squads to playing just four youth players for games, so Guardiola takes five to choose between for the squad: defender Marc Bartra, midfielders Sergi Roberto, Jonathan dos Santos and Thiago Alcantara and forward Nolito.

The Barcelona B team – renamed such by Sandro Rosell after two years as Barcelona Atletic at the decree of Joan Laporta – is currently in Spain’s Segunda Division under the management of Luis Enrique and sit fourth, four points off top spot. Guardiola was asked of their progress under his former teammate and of the future integration of youth stars into the first team: “It is intriguing to see how they perform at a new and very demanding level. Luis Enrique is doing a wonderful job and there is no greater success for this club than to see those boys progress to the first team. It is more important than a title for us, especially now in the current economic situation.”

Guardiola was asked which Barcelona side was playing the better football, quickly replying: “The subsidiary [B team], but the important thing is there are many similarities and a very similar style of play and allows players to integrate very quickly into the first team.”

Carles Puyol and Lionel Messi are included in the squad but may not feature if Guardiola can help it, eager to give them a rest, but unable to guarantee it with current selection problems and the limit on B team player involvement. Puyol is set for his 500th appearance with Barcelona in all competitions and should the defender not feature on Wednesday then he will more than likely reach the landmark in Saturday’s clash with third-place Villarreal.

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