Guardiola: Defeat was a big lesson
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said his side's 2-1 loss at Real Sociedad was a timely wake up call ahead of Tuesday's UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match against arch rivals Real Madrid. Sociedad came from behind to secure a surprise win and end Barcelona's 32-game unbeaten league record stretching back to mid-September, when they lost 2-0 at home to Hercules.
Barcelona sit eight points clear of Real in the league and need four points from their remaining four games to secure the league title, but the priority is reaching the Champions League final as they defend a 2-0 first-leg lead.
Barça motral after all
"What happened (against Sociedad) was a big lesson for us. We are a team that can win and lose," said Guardiola. "We were coming off the back of a difficult situation with a lot of players missing. We didn't control possession in the second half and we are a team who needs to control the game.
"After the break, we didn't have that but I can't reproach my players. There's just four more points needed and we will go and try to get them wherever we can. We will have to win them -- we've talked about that."
A fourth meeting in 18 days with old foes Real now awaits Barcelona, who hold a commanding 2-0 lead from the first leg in Madrid, but Guardiola anticipates a tough battle in the return leg at Camp Nou. "It is the semi-final of the Champions League. It is always better to be winning but we will analyse this defeat. We must now prepare for Tuesday's game," said Guardiola.
"I think it will be a very hard game in every sense, both in terms of football and emotions. We will need the fans' support -- we need everyone to give us a hand. We will have to be very strong out on the pitch."
Injury worries aplenty
Barcelona saw injuries to Argentine centre-back Gabriel Milito, out for a month with a muscle tear, and youngster Martin Montoya add to the growing list of absentees, which already includes Eric Abidal, Maxwell, Adriano, Andres Iniesta and Bojan Krkic.
"This leaves us a bit short-handed for the final run-in to the season," admitted Guardiola. "But we are who we are and we can always call on the reserve team players. It's amazing that we have come this far and now we have to finish the job off."
Three days after their 2-0 loss to Barcelona, Madrid fell to a shock 3-2 home defeat by strugglers Real Zaragoza, although coach Jose Mourinho denied his side had waved the white flag in the title race. "I hope no-one thinks that we have given up on the title," said Mourinho. "I am the only one to blame for this defeat because as a coach I wasn't capable of motivating the team in the first half."
Brazilian star Kaka said Madrid were lazy and needed to up their game to have any chance of getting past Barcelona. "I think that we were really lazy in the first half and showed a lack of spirit," said Kaka. "We were slack. It cannot happen again this season. Madrid cannot stop fighting. We cannot go wrong on Tuesday the way we did against Zaragoza."