All eyes on Piqué & Pep during Barça’s pre-match prep

Considering Barcelona’s defence hasn’t really been the cause of the club’s very baduss - which has instead been down to a somewhat limp attack that relies rather heavily on Leo Messi not feeling peaky - there has been quite a to-do about Gerard Piqué failing to appear for the games against Chelsea and Real Madrid.

However, unless Pep Guardiola and the Barcelona communications team are being rather mischievous, the Shakira-obsessed centre-back looks likely to be lining up in the Champions League semi-final second leg against the Londoners, given it was Piqué who took time out of his busy social schedule to talk to the press ahead of a match in whcih Barcelona have a bit of catching up to do.

Piqué’s main task in the press conference was to confirm everything was just tickety-boo with Pep Guardiola, despite the manager clearly have having lost his ‘feeling’ with the centre-back, something that normally involves a transfer to Serie A a few months later if Bojan and Zlatan’s experiences are any thing to go by.

“My relationship with him is very good, although you don’t believe it,” said Piqué to the journalists, “We speak a lot.”

The defender then said he would go to great lengths to see his coach carrying on for another season at the Camp Nou. “I’d stick my hand in a fire,” confirmed Piqué in a promise LLL would be amused to see Pep hold the centre-back to.

Guardiola later spoke on the issue and was happy to confirm Piqué had not been playing simply because he wasn’t good enough, rather than there being any issues about his private life. “Of course, it’s for sporting reasons. A coach can’t control private lives. Gerard has a very full life as a person, I want this for him and want him to be the same person I’ve known for four years and Tito has known since he was a kid, a happy guy. It’s his life, it’s not for me to say he should do this, not do that.”

The other discussion point in the Catalan capital surrounds how Barcelona are going to get circumnavigate Chelsea’s big defensive bus and overturn the 1-0 deficit from the first leg. Josep Maria Casanovas, writing in Monday’s Sport, says through a Linford Christie-style Positive Mental Attitude. “The problem is in their heads, in getting back their confidence, in restoring their morale, in having confidence in their own abilities,” reports the columnist.” There is also a call for the crowd to give the team a warm hand on their entrance ahead of the game, “Barça have given so much, they deserve our total support in these difficult moments.”

Last week the Catalan press triumphantly called that Barcelona would be in the final because the side were infinitely superior to Chelsea. This week, with some doubts over the team's progression, the vibe from some is that Barça should go through because it wouldn’t be fair if they didn’t. “The fans of this Barcelona team deserve a Champions League final. As much as the team do,” were the thoughts of Mundo Deportivo's Santi Nolla, who apparently got a little emotional from Saturday’s scintillating atmosphere in the Camp Nou.

“The day of Real Madrid in Camp Nou was exciting when hearing the how the hymn was sung in the stadium, almost a cappella, with goosebumps before the match. Or in the last ten minutes of a tempestuous match with the Barcelona fans singing the club’s name, a sign of such support.” What the Mundo Deportivo writer wasn’t excited about, it seems, was all those long periods between his two highlights.

A few songs aren’t going to help Barça beat Chelsea. Leo Messi needs a bit of help, Xavi Hernández needs to rediscover his mojo and Cesc needs to pull his finger out a little. If that happens, then LLL predicts a fairly comfy 3-0 win for the Champions League holders to help their bid to retain their title.