Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola says his team’s attention has already shifted from La Liga to the Champions League final.After already securing their third consecutive league championship, Barca travel to Malaga on Saturday with nothing at stake domestically.
Guardiola and his players can be forgiven for prioritising their Champions League showdown with Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on May 28.
“We have an obligation to look at the next game of course, but it’s true that most of our work now is focused on London,” Guardiola said.
“I prefer to have the youngsters playing against Malaga – they are full of desire and want to make things tough for me.”
“For the others I think they are better off training on Saturday and resting on Sunday.”
Barca lifted the Champions League trophy after beating United 2-0 in Rome in 2009 and narrowly lost out to Inter in last season’s semi-final.
While the team have now become perennially among the favourites to capture European club football’s biggest prize, Guardiola was quick to caution against complacency.
“We are so lucky to be in a final,” Guardiola said.
“We have to be conscious of the fact that although we have played two finals in the last three years, we could go another 20 years without making it to another.”
“The older players in the squad can remember what it’s like to go four or five years without winning anything. If we don’t realise how important the game is, then we will give United an edge and they will also be after a win to turn the tables on us after our win two years ago.”
After spending the season battling to keep a small first-team squad fit and available, Guardiola has now been dealing with the welcome challenge of keeping his players sharp with just one final contest in mind.
“We’re not used to that, but we will be working on aspects of our game, in attack and defence, with the aim of ensuring that the players go into the game as fresh, mentally and physically, as possible,” he said.
“Now we just have to enjoy every day as it comes and make the training sessions as much fun as we can – we’ll have time to get focussed.”