Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Vilanova unconcerned by Madrid derby

SoccerNews in La Liga 30 Nov 2012

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Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is unworried by how rivals Real Madrid fare against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The La Liga leaders face Athletic Bilbao prior to the Madrid derby and could briefly hold a six-point advantage over Atletico.

Pep Guardiola’s former assistant said he had no intention of watching the important derby clash and urged his players to focus on their encounter against Bilbao.

“I have to attend my media conference and then have some supper. I have no intention of seeing (the derby) or following it,” Vilanova told reporters.

“Whether they (Real Madrid) are 14 or 16 points behind us is not important, they will not give up. I do not bother myself with that and neither should the players.”

Marcelo Bielsa’s Bilbao have struggled this season and sit 14th in the league having failed to win their past two domestic matches.

But Vilanova warned his side they needed to concentrate, particularly with star striker Fernando Llorente a constant threat.

“My players know that Marcelo Bielsa’s teams exert much pressure and we’ll need to work. They’ve lost key players, but that does not make them any less dangerous,” he said.

“The quality Llorente has is important, but he’s had contractual problems. He has the ability to play for any big team in Europe.”

Two Barcelona players, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, are among the three finalists for the Ballon d’Or and Vilanova hopes the award goes to one of them.

“I hope that one of the two wins. It depends on the votes but whoever wins it will be fair,” he said.

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