BARCELONA, Spain – Barcelona may finally be feeling the pressure that comes with being billed the world’s best club, coach Pep Guardiola said on Tuesday.
Guardiola spoke in rallying tones ahead of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semifinal at Valencia after the Spanish and European champions drew 0-0 at Villarreal to sit seven points behind league leader Real Madrid.
“Living with this constant pressure of having to win and win makes it hard, makes you tense,” Guardiola said ahead of the first-leg match. “Sooner or later we’ll stop winning. Eventually a better team will come along. That’s when we’ll have to see if we believe in ourselves. I have to see it to believe it.”
Guardiola harked back to his time as a player to help boost his squad’s spirits ahead of another road game, with the team having dropped 13 points in 10 games away in the league this season.
“As a player I sometimes allowed myself to slip up and I don’t want my players to do the same,” said the Catalan coach, whose club has managed to win all three of its away games in the domestic cup competition.
Guardiola remained mum on whether he would sign a contract extension, with the 41-year-old having signed one year extensions around this time in each of the last two seasons.
“Whether I sign an extension or not is my decision,” Guardiola said. “I want to be convinced.”
Barcelona will be without injured players Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Pedro Rodriguez and Ibrahim Afellay for the game at the Mestalla stadium, while Lionel Messi has not looked his best of late.
Guardiola wasn’t chasing excuses as the record 25-time cup champion vies for a spot in the final.
“Barcelona needs to keep competing, that’s what’s most important,” Guardiola said. “People can’t ask us if we prefer one competition over another.”