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Apr 24, 2011

Guardiola: Real Madrid are favourites

Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola insists Real Madrid are favourites as the two great rivals prepare to do battle for a place in the Champions League final.

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In the first half of four El Clasico games, Real Madrid drew 1-1 with Barca in La Liga before an extra -time winner from Cristiano Ronaldo handed them victory in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday, giving Jose Mourinho the first trophy of his Los Blancos reign.

While Guardiola's side edged past Osasuna 2-0 on Saturday, Real thumped Valencia 6-3 in the Mestalla, with Gonzalo Higuain grabbing a hat-trick, Kaka registering a brace and Karim Benzema netting the other.

With the first leg of their Champions League semi-final approaching on Wednesday, Guardiola accepts that Barcelona are underdogs.

"We accept that Madrid are in the role of favourites in the Champons League. I understand that is so, because they won the Copa and they are [playing] well," he told Marca.

"We are not in the best of conditions to play in the Bernabeu but we are fine emotionally. In the Bernabeu we will have to play very seriously and win the game.

"We also accept the challenge. We have great faith in ourselves and I have faith more than anything in my players."

There is a chance that a Portuguese referee will be chosen to officiate the first leg - something Guardiola insisted would delight his opposite number.

"I am convinced that Mourinho will be very happy if there is a Portuguese referee. To play the semi-final we will need the right mentality and tactics.

"The last two semi-finals we have played have been very hard fought. We have seen Madrid's strength with Higuain, Benzema and Kaka."

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