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Madrid – Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is confident his team will reach the final of the Champions League, despite Wednesday's 1-0 defeat at Chelsea.
Barca dominated the semi-final first leg from start to finish but lacked a cool finish – and conceded a goal by Chelsea's veteran striker Didier Drogba.
Even so, Guardiola believes his team can reach what would be their third final within his four-year reign.
“The result is what it is,” he said straight after the game. “These things happen. They broke away just once and scored. The return leg will also be like this. They will be looking for a goal, and will close things down at the back.
“This is a beautiful challenge, and if we wish to be considered as one of the great teams then we will have to rise to it.”
Not since AC Milan won back-to-back Champions titles in 1990 has a team managed to defend its European crown.
“In the past few years we have overcome many obstacles and illnesses,” in reference, presumably, to the liver transplant of left-back Eric Abidal and the throat operation of assistant coach Tito Vilanova.
“This result is not unfair, this is football. A team doesn't win because of possession, if that was the case we would always win. What you have to do is score goals.
“I hope that on Tuesday we will put away the chances that we create, not like tonight. We will need a lot of patience and inspiration...I am sure that our fans will get behind us.”
The Barca fans seem to share Guardiola's optimism. An online poll taken by Mundo Deportivo showed Thursday that 69 per cent of readers think Barca will reach the final.
Meanwhile, the headline in rival daily Sport on Thursday was “Playing Like This...Into The Final.”
Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta said: “The return leg will be a similar kind of game, with they waiting in defence. They defend very well in their area but with the Camp Nou cheering us on we will have an advantage.
“We will have to be more aggressive in attack. We have no choice but to be more effective in front of goal...We were short on accuracy tonight. The difference in football is scoring and tonight we have not done that.”
Winger Pedro - who hit the Chelsea post in stoppage time - declared that “we were better than them, it is a shame. We are annoyed because we have played a good game but obtained a bad result. But we still have the chance to turn this around in front of our own fans.”
Ahead of Tuesday's showdown with Chelsea, Barca will receive arch Spanish rivals Real Madrid in Saturday's Clasico.
Guardiola's team need to beat Real to stand any chance of retaining the Liga title because they are four points behind the whites with just five games left to play. – Sapa-dpa