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May 18, 2021

Champions League: Guardiola claims Madrid are favourites

With injuries mounting and the Copa del Rey final loss fresh in his mind, FC Barcelona’s Josep Guardiola thinks Real Madrid CF will take “the tag of favourites” into their semi-final meeting to take place on Wednesday night, according to uefa.com.

Barcelona’s 2-0 home triumph against CA Osasuna on Saturday came courtesy of David Villa’s first club goal in 12 games and Lionel Messi’s 50th strike for the side this season. However, with Gabriel Milito (calf) and Maxwell (groin) doubtful for Wednesday after joining a defensive injury list which already includes Adriano and Carles Puyol, the Azulgrana coach said his charges were not “in the best of condition” ahead of their trip to the capital.

Indeed, while Madrid followed their 1-0 extra-time Copa del Rey win against Barcelona with a 6-3 dismantling of third-placed Valencia CF, Guardiola described his side’s performance against Osasuna as “weak”, despite the positive outcome.  “With three days to recover from a final that lasted 120 minutes and with the Champions League semi-finals around the corner, the initial plan was to avoid playing those who usually do,” the 40-year-old explained after making seven changes to the team which started Wednesday’s cup showpiece.

Conceding that Madrid had “earned the tag of favourites” going into the third meeting between the teams in less than a fortnight, Guardiola insisted his team would nonetheless remain true to the style that has earned them such widespread admiration. Mourinho, meanwhile, said he was “very happy,” after a Gonzalo Higuain hat-trick, a double from Kaká and a Karim Benzema effort helped see off Valencia. “My team won well while playing some spectacular football,” the Portuguese tactician explained. “The three points keep us fighting for a title that is still mathematically within our grasp. For that, I am very happy.”

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