MADRID, Jan. 20 (.) –
The Real Betis coach, Manuel Pellegrini, has assured that they are “very wrong” if they think that this Sunday they are going to find “a Barça in crisis” at the Benito Villamarín, since he considers that Xavi Hernández’s team is “equally stronger than last season” and that it has “important squad potential.
“In teams like Barcelona or Real Madrid, doubts are generated with a single setback. Although they did not have a good performance in the Super Cup, they are still in the other three competitions and are fighting for the first places in the classification table. They are a few points away below, but there are still 54 points to play for, which is an enormity to try to overcome,” he declared at a press conference.
Therefore, he appealed not to trust himself. “If we believe that we are going to find a Barça in crisis, we are very wrong. They have a stellar squad, with many variants, and we expect a tough rival, as they always are Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atlético,” he stated.
Furthermore, he believes that the Barça team “is just as strong as last season.” “Last season almost no one scored against them. They have the same potential, perhaps this year they will have more squad, I don’t think we are going to find a rival that is weakened either emotionally or football-wise,” he stressed.
“Two seasons ago they beat us with a great goal from Jordi Alba and that season we beat them at home. We know that the squad has significant potential, that it cannot make mistakes. Within that, these games make us grow if we don’t change too much our mechanics. If we defend the eleven in the area and win on a counterattack, we do not grow as a team,” he continued.
Regarding Xavi, he believes that he is “absolutely prepared, due to his entire career as a player.” “He became champion with Barcelona last year, I don’t think he can be affected by the major or minor criticisms that are always going to come. He is a young coach who is just starting out and who is doing very well at the moment,” he expressed.
In another order of things, the green and white coach, who revealed that they will have “eight or nine important casualties” this Sunday, analyzed the departure of Mexican Andrés Guardado. “We had already talked about Andrés, he was a very important player. With Joaquín leaving, it was important for him to stay because of what he contributed both on and off the field,” he said.
“He is a very regular player; at 38 years old it was difficult for him to play often, but every time he came on it was very important. He had a great opportunity to prolong his career and after what he has given us in seven years he deserved to be able to leave now. He is not the best moment, but we have to see how we replace it,” he added.
The Chilean coach also spoke about his options in midfield, revealing that Sergi Altimira has been “having discomfort for a couple of weeks” and that the American Johnny Cardoso is “prepared to play.” “We’ll see which of them we start with. Although Guardado’s position is covered, we’ll see if there is any possibility of bringing in a replacement. There are still other positions that may have priority,” he said.
“The president already said it: if there are no departures, it is difficult for there to be arrivals. Bringing names is easy, but bringing reinforcements is not so easy. The players have their value and we are not in a position to sign what we need to reinforce. No I am very worried about the market and yes about the current squad,” he concluded.