GUARDIOLA HITS OUT AT BARCA CRITICS

Pep Guardiola has hit out against Barcelona's critics in a tense press conference.

Last Updated: 23/04/12 at 22:13 Post Comment

Pep Guardiola: Walked out of Monday's press conference

Pep Guardiola: Walked out of Monday's press conference

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Pep Guardiola has hit out against Barcelona's critics in a tense press conference ahead of Tuesday's do-or-die Champions League clash with Chelsea.

The Catalans head into the semi-final second leg on the back of successive defeats, losing 1-0 to the Blues in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge and then suffering a home defeat to arch rivals Real Madrid on Saturday.

Guardiola struck a frustrated figure during Monday night's press conference at the Nou Camp, where his selection and tactics were questioned.

The Barca manager took particular exception to a Spanish journalist probing him on his decision to start Cristian Tello against Madrid.

Guardiola responded with a long rant as he defended his selection decisions, saying: "He played a f****** good game. I mean most of the dangerous chances were created by him."The Spaniard was curt in some answers and rambling in others during a lengthy press conference, which he brought to an abrupt end by walking out.

Guardiola, though, earlier insisted he was not feeling the pressure due to the trust he had in his players to perform.

"I don't know if this is the most important moment of my career as a coach, but I have always faced these challenges with a lot of optimism as I believe in my players and team," he said.

"Whenever you have a defeat, the day after the match you feel a little low but afterwards you get faith in the facts and I am optimistic because I know them well and that we will work hard.

"We try to cover everything that is important so we just try and do that.

"We will analyse the challenge and I think we have had other challenges over the years.

"I cannot really tell you if this is the most important challenge of my life."

Barcelona's chance of overhauling the 1-0 deficit against Chelsea has been boosted by Lionel Messi's fitness.

The reigning world player of the year missed training on Sunday but returned today in an open media session at the Nou Camp.

Gerard Pique also trained and Guardiola batted away talk of a rift with the Spain international, who has been left out of the past two matches.

"Well, Leo had a gastric issue," Guardiola said. "The doctor saw him and he called us before the training session.

"He didn't go to it as he didn't feel well but now he is ok.

"As for Gerard, there is no problem at all. He has had an injury for a long time.

"I have many players and can choose Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol, who are a good combination in central defence.

"We wanted to have the right players to face [Karim] Benzema, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Angel] Di Maria and that is why I decided to play with the players I have chosen so far.

"I do appreciate Gerard because of his approach to life and because how he loves football.

"The rest is just my decision, the fact he plays or not."

Barcelona have won three of the two clubs' four two-legged contests in the Champions League knockout phases.

The last time Chelsea came to Barca defending a lead was in 2000, where Guardiola and Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo were on opposing sides as players.

Barca triumphed that time after extra time and the former is expecting a similarly tough encounter on Tuesday.

"I don't remember so much but I do remember it was a similar game to what we are going to play tomorrow," Guardiola said.

"It was a very physical game, very defensive as they try to defend a good result for them and try to find a way to create the chances.

"When we lose control of the ball, they use the counter-attack because it is one of the big, big points for Chelsea."

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