Guardiola targets away goal prize

Pep Guardiola says Barcelona will not betray their attacking instincts when they face Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Last Updated: 30/03/10 at 20:01   

Guardiola: No holding back

Guardiola: No holding back

Armed with a star-studded squad, including in-form Argentina international Lionel Messi and former Arsenal skipper Thierry Henry, the Barca coach is determined to try and take a lead back to Spain for the return leg.

While Arsenal have doubts about the fitness of Cesc Fabregas, Barca will be without influential midfielder Andres Iniesta, but his absence will not see Guardiola abandon his positive approach.

"Arsenal will be playing to their strengths and we will play to ours," said Guardiola. "We all know that scoring an away goal is very important for the return leg.

"So we will have an attacking intention and will defend in a very aggressive manner, in the right sense of the word. We will try to score, that is our main idea, it is very important.

"We need to defend well but you cannot defend well if you do not attack well. It is very important to score a goal away from home. My players are motivated. We are talking about the best teams in Europe. To be here, in the quarters, is a privilege. We are very lucky to be here because we had a difficult group.

"We will try and win this game. That is what we will do - get the ball and attack."

Guardiola did not appear at all concerned about the fitness of former Barcelona youngster Fabregas.

The Gunner has a "slight" chance of recovering from a knee injury in time to play but Guardiola does not believe that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is trying to hoodwink him.

"If Mr. Wenger is saying that Cesc might not be playing tomorrow, he will have his reasons," said Guardiola. "I know that Cesc is a very good player and obviously it is better for them if he plays.

"But they still beat Porto 5-0 and have three or four players who are very dynamic and play in the same position. But if Wenger says he might not be playing, I believe him.

"Cesc is a very dynamic player. He is always moving around and actually playing closer to the opponent's goal so he has more chances. Since he was little he has always been a good, clinical finisher."

Tomorrow's first-leg is already promising to be something of a footballing masterclass and Guardiola is full of admiration for his opponents.

"I am honoured to be in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and hopefully we will try to get to the final for the second successive year," he added.

"That is a very difficult achievement. I am honoured to come back to this stadium because we are going to be playing against a team that is phenomenal. A lot of people like their style of football. They are a very dynamic and daring team.

"Mr. Wenger is one of the best coaches in the world. He is part of the history of Arsenal. He won trophies and changed the mentality of this club. It is a new club now. All around the world people admire him and Arsenal. That is why it is an honour to play against a team like Arsenal.

"It is time to be serious and focused because tomorrow we play against one of the best teams in the world over the last 10 or 15 years."

Arsenal are almost certain to provide Henry with a warm welcome when he returns to the club tomorrow.

Henry, now 32, joined Barcelona in the summer of 2007 after a superb Arsenal career which saw him lead the Gunners against the Spaniards in the previous season's Champions League final.

"Thierry has a lot of experience and he is used to playing this kind of game," said Guardiola.

"He is returning home. He is the best player that ever played here in Arsenal. It is amazing. He is a huge talent and he is a huge part of this club. But for me it is an honour that he is with me at Barcelona."

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