Sabtu, 14 Januari 2012

Guardiola trusts Barca's young players

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola will rely on the club's youth players instead of reinforcing his injury-hit squad through the winter transfer market.

''We will fall back on our youth players until the end,'' Guardiola said on Saturday. ''Going to the market doesn't guarantee anything. The players have to adapt, and there isn't money.

''From the very beginning we designed a small squad because we believe in our youth program.''

Barcelona has lost striker David Villa, midfielder Ibrahim Afellay and, most recently, defender Andreu Fontas to long-term injuries. Its defense was also thinned this week by the exit of Brazilian left back Maxwell to Paris Saint-Germain.

The three-time defending Spanish champions will also be without Andres Iniesta (ankle) and Pedro Rodriguez (leg) for Sunday's league match against Real Betis, a match it needs to win to keep pace with leader Real Madrid.

Barcelona then visits Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Wednesday for the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.

''If we don't respond well in the league because of the 'clasicos' we will let the league slip away,'' Guardiola said. ''With a rival like Madrid, if we drop more points we won't be champions.''

The two-game cup series will take the number of ''clasico'' matches in the last nine months to nine. Madrid's sole victory during that run came in last year's Copa final.

The fierce rivals have already met three time this season, with Barcelona winning the two-legged Spanish Super Cup 5-4 on aggregate in August before a 3-1 victory at Madrid in the league last month.

Guardiola has brought a number of young prospects into Barcelona's first team, including Spanish internationals Pedro, Sergio Busquets, and Thiago Alcantara.

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