Barca players ready for Clasico tilts

Barca players ready for Clasico tilts

Published Jan. 16, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola believes his players can handle the pressure of a Copa del Rey quarter-final against great rivals Real Madrid despite trailing them in the Primera Division title race.

Barcelona are five points behind Madrid in the league table going into the first leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday but expects his players to rise to the challenge.

Guardiola's side kept up their La Liga challenge with a 4-2 home win over Real Betis on Sunday as Madrid came from behind to win 2-1 at Real Mallorca the previous evening.

With the title race put to one side this week, Guardiola believes his side can cope against Jose Mourinho's team.


"It's a (cup) tie not a league game. I have not noticed any signs in my players that they do not want to win titles," said Guardiola in quotes reported by Marca.

"In these (type of) games (my players have) the desire to make a good game and can handle it."

Midfielder Andres Iniesta is also looking forward to a competitive cup tie.

He told the club website: "It will be a beautiful game for the spectators and for the players. I'm sure that it will be a beautiful and intense play-off."

Madrid defender or midfielder Pepe has admitted they need to concentrate more in the early stages of games if they are to avoid having to fight back from conceding a lead.

Tomer Hemed had given Mallorca a first-half lead before late goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Maria Callejon earned Madrid victory in Saturday's league game.

"We're finding it a little hard to find focus at the start of our games and we'll have to fix this so that it doesn't happen again," Pepe told the Madrid website.

"We must change our mentality, rest and later on think about what we must do against Barcelona."