DALLAS — Even after the most lopsided loss during his tenure — a 4-1 defeat on Wednesday to Chivas Guadalajara — FC Barcelona manager Josep “Pep” Guardiola still has a smile on his face.
Why? Preseason is not a reflection on the upcoming campaign, according to Guardiola, especially when you’re playing catch-up on preparations ahead of an August 14 Spanish Supercopa first leg match against Real Madrid.
“Last year when we got to the Supercopa, we also got there with a delay [in our preparations] and we’re even more delayed this year,” Guardiola said at a press conference on Thursday. “Last year we played without eight or nine players [during preseason] and some of them played the preseason game against Chelsea without a single training session.
“So It’s very similar last year. … But we experienced it last year and we did magnificently well all year. I don’t understand why this year can’t go just as well.”
Guardiola has been missing club icon Carles Puyol, Maxwell and Ibraham Afellay to injury, while also doing without Lionel Messi, Alexis Sánchez, Javier Mascherano and Dani Alves due to prolonged vacations following their national teams’ participation in the Copa América. They will rejoin Barça next week, just a few days before the Real Madrid matchup. Meanwhile, Jeffren Suárez and Gabriel Milito have moved on to new clubs.
“Yesterday’s result is down to people not being here,” Guardiola said of the 4-1 loss to Chivas in Miami. “They’re not here and we know it. … But knowing we’re behind in our preparations, we can use our heads and still make an effort to push forward.
“I think the 10th or 11th [of August] we’ll be all together for the first time, two days before the first game against Real Madrid and we’ve had to play with these kind of players, the young players.”
It marked the first time on the US tour that Guardiola expressly cited the use of the reserve and youth players from La Masía as a mitigating factor for the lack of results during this preseason, in which FC Barcelona have doubled the number of exhibition matches from three last year to six in 2011.
And the opposition have been no pushovers. From Brazilian side Internacional, to Manchester United, Bayern Munich and the two Mexican powers, Barcelona have not been afraid of putting themselves to the test.
“We’ll have won and lost not against nothing teams but against good teams that will have helped us learn to get where we need to be to compete,” Guardiola said.
“I don’t know what will happen in the future. If these players will stop winning. Or if they’ve won too much. But it will never change how I feel about them. They’ve shown what they’re capable of on a competitive level. And we need these days that remain to make us realize the things that have made us well known.”