Departing Barca boss Pep Guardiola focused on Copa del Rey final

By IndepthAfrica
In Soccer
May 1st, 2012

Barcelona's Spanish coach Josep Guardiola gestures during a training session on the eve of the UEFA Champions League final football match FC Barcelona vs. Manchester United, on May 27, 2011 at Wembley stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola insists Barcelona still have plenty to play for, even with Real Madrid having likely won the Primera Division title.

The Catalans have come up just short in the La Liga race this season, but the coach, speaking after their 7-0 demolition of Rayo Vallecano, said they must keep their concentration ahead of the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on May 25.

“We know that Madrid are the champions, but each game is useful to prepare for the final,” he said. “The players took it very seriously, they were playing a team which still needs points to avoid relegation.”

Guardiola reiterated he will take a season-long break and will not coach a team next season. Sunday’s game was also watched closely for signs on how Barca might evolve under new head coach Tito Vilan-ova next season.

The most interesting selection being 21-year-old Martín Montoya at right-back with Dani Alves on the bench. Alves appeared as a substitute, providing the assist for Thiago’s goal (Barca’s fifth), but disappointed his coach by his over exuberant celebration directly in front of Rayo’s fans.

“That was not the behaviour of Barcelona players,” said Guardiola. “We have apologised to Rayo. It will not happen again.”

Meanwhile, representatives of Espanyol and Sporting Gijon have furiously denied their game last Saturday, a 3-0 win at Espanyol, had been fixed. Officials from the Spanish league (LFP) have reportedly met with government anti-corruption authorities to investigate possible match-fixing, with last weekend’s game under the spotlight.

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