Guardiola prefers pitch battle

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Coach Pep Guardiola wants Barcelona to do their talking on the pitch after a dramatic war of words erupted between him and Real Madrid counterpart Jose Mourinho ahead of Wednesday night's Champions League semi-final first leg.

Mourinho sparked an uncharacteristically angry response from his opposite number after branding Guardiola as being a unique coach who "criticises the right decisions made by referees", referring to comments attributed to the Barca boss following last week's Copa del Rey final regarding a disallowed Pedro Rodriguez goal for offside.

"We will meet each other on the pitch. He's won his games off the pitch and I'll give him his personal Champions (League) for that," said Guardiola. "In this room, he's the chief, the man, the person who knows everything about the world and I don't want to compete with him at all."

The Barca boss added: "If you think that his allegation that I always complain about the referees is true after you've all heard from me over the last three years, well there's nothing I can do. Off the pitch there's nothing we can do to fight that.

"Off the pitch, he has already won, as he has done all year. On the pitch, we'll see what happens."

Guardiola has plenty on his plate heading into the semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu without having to worry about Mourinho's comments. Already without Eric Abidal, Adriano, Maxwell and Bojan Krkic, he lost Spain international Andres Iniesta for tonight's match due to a calf injury.

Madrid, who beat Barca 1-0 in the Copa del Rey final to end a three-year barren spell without any silverware, have less concerns.

They are without the suspended Ricardo Carvalho and injured Sami Khedira and Fernando Gago, but with a supposed second-string side thrashing Valencia 6-3 at the weekend, Mourinho has an embarrassing array of riches at his disposal.

Taking all that into account, Guardiola said at the weekend that his side were underdogs heading into the game.

However, Mourinho dismissed that suggestion, saying: "For me there are no favourites. It's the Champions League semi-finals - two rival teams who know each other very well. Two teams with long traditions, two teams whose players know what it is to be successful, who know how to win things and play big matches."

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European News
UEFA Champions League
Ricardo Carvalho

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