Guardiola mocks critics as Barça try to rebound from Real setback

Europe

Pep Guardiola's Barcelona can go some way to healing the wounds of their midweek cup final defeat to Real Madrid by taking a giant step towards their third successive Spanish title tonight at home to struggling Osasuna.

Barcelona are eight points ahead of Real Madrid, who play before them tonight in Valencia, with six games left to play. Guardiola has warned his players to get over losing the first trophy of the season to Madrid. "If the players are sad or angry then they should run more and they will soon forget about what happened in midweek. If football you lose more than you win. We have been lucky enough to live through something extraordinary in recent seasons."

The Barcelona manager also reacted sarcastically to a question about how he valued winning the league. "It will be a disaster," he said. "We will have to change the coach and the president and it will be the end of an era. I will be very content if we win the league but perhaps people will be sad if that is all we win. These players are extraordinary and we will miss them when they are not here."

Despite being within touching distance of another title Guardiola could still rest players ahead of Wednesday's Champions League first leg semi-final against Real. "People say we played badly in the first half but Madrid also played that match. They are a great side with a great coach. But we will attack them all the same at the Bernabeu."

Carles Puyol will sit out today's match but David Villa will continue in attack and is looking for his first goal in 11 games.

Real Madrid go back to Valencia where they won the Cup in midweek. And with the game coming after post-final celebrations and before their next big test in the Champions League, Jose Mourinho is expected to rest players. Valencia are on a run of three straight wins including a victory over Villarreal which almost assures them a third-placed finish.

As Guardiola's injury list lengthens Mourinho may also have to do without a key player for the rest of the season after midfielder Sami Khedira picked up a thigh injury.

In Italy Milan travel to Brescia today where three points against the relegation-threatened side will all but tie up the Scudetto. Napoli, who are six points off the lead with five games left, visit Palermo.

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