28 April 2009

Guardiola fears physical approach from Chelsea

Pep Guardiola: Won the tournament as a player back in 1992.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola wants to see his players dominate a "physical" Chelsea side when they meet in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final, first leg at the Nou Camp.

Guardiola, who won the Champions League as a Barca player in 1992, has led the Catalan giants all the way to the last four in his first season as coach.

A possible treble is still on for the Catalans but the Champions League is likely to be the hardest to win of those three competitions and Guardiola hopes his players can avoid getting dragged into a physical battle against Chelsea.

"They are a very strong team physically and have a lot of experience," he said.

"From a physical point of view, they are much more powerful than us, so my players will have to dominate."

Guardiola is particularly concerned by the threat Guus Hiddink's side pose from set-pieces.

"People like (Branislav) Ivanovic, (John) Terry, (Michael) Ballack and (Didier) Drogba are strong in the air, so the less free-kicks and corners we give away the better - because they are better than us in that respect," he said.

Guardiola believes the second leg will decide which team progresses to the final in Rome later next month.

"It will be decided in London and we won't be relaxed, whatever the result tomorrow," he said.

Guardiola was part of the Barcelona side that overcame a 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge with a stunning 5-1 win at the Nou Camp in 2000.

That success - which saw the Catalans advance to the semi-finals, where they were then beaten by Real Madrid - was inspired by Luis Figo.

"We played well that night and Figo was immense," Guardiola said. "But we have players like him who can inspire us this time."

Barcelona also knocked out Chelsea on the way to the title in 2006, having been eliminated by Jose Mourinho's side the previous season following a 4-2 defeat in London.

Nevertheless, Guardiola insists Barcelona will remain true to their attacking philosophy in the two games against Hiddink's side.

"We will play our attacking game - that's the only way we know how," he said.

Xavi also claimed the Catalans will set out to attack.

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