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Apr 27, 2010

Guardiola resists Mourinho's mind games

Pep Guardiola is ignoring Jose Mourinho's notorious mind games as Barcelona and Inter Milan prepare to do battle for a place in Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

• Forum: Can Barcelona topple Inter?

Guardiola led Barca to a historic haul of six trophies in his first year in charge, but he must overturn a 3-1 deficit if he is to lead his side into their second successive final.

It was the first time a Guardiola-led Barca had lost a match by two goals and the Catalans will need a stirring fightback to advance to the final, which takes place at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu on May 22.

Mourinho spoke of Barca's obsession of winning the title at their fierce rivals' home ground and hinted that the Catalans go down too easily. But the Barca coach, who worked with Mourinho when the Portuguese coach was an assistant to Sir Bobby Robson and Louis Van Gaal at the Nou Camp, believes his players must focus on their own game.

"It's a game of football, not a magic night, and we have to be ourselves - we will go out and try to generate as many chances as we always do,'' he said.

"We don't know if we are capable of turning this around, but we will give everything against a great team to try and get to the final. Inter doesn't matter, nor their great coach, nor their marvellous players - the only thing that matters is that we are ourselves.''

Guardiola was Barcelona captain when Mourinho worked at the Catalan club and the 39-year-old says he could not have imagined the Portuguese coach would go on to become one of the top managers in the game.

"I didn't know he was so talented - I didn't have this view and I have to say that had I seen it at the time, I would have told the president to keep him here,'' the Barca coach revealed.

Mourinho has since become something of an unpopular figure at the Nou Camp after inciting the Catalan fans prior to Champions League clashes as coach of Chelsea and now Inter, but Guardiola says the 47-year-old could go on to coach Barca.

"Maybe in the future he can come and train this club,'' he said. For the moment, Guardiola reminded his players they are in a privileged position. "We are here in a Champions League semi-final and we don't know when we might be back, so we have to make the most of it,'' he said.

"We are excited and looking forward to the game, in the most prestigious competition in Europe at club level, with a full stadium - people stop you in the street and cheer you on and that inspires you.

"It is wonderful to be in a profession where people talk about your work all the time, it's an honour, the most special thing there is - film directors and authors would be delighted if people spoke about their films or books all the time.''

Guardiola followed Mourinho's lead by calling up every single one of his players for Wednesday's game, but Eric Abidal and Andres Iniesta are both set to miss out through injury.

"I'm not able to guess what will happen, but we will see if we are able to do it - we will go out and be ourselves, we are an exemplary club,'' Guardiola said. "We have a good relationship, although we don't call each other or even have each other's phone numbers,'' the Barca coach said. "He's the best and that's all, but we'll try to beat him.''

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