Barcelona defender Gerard
Pique has played down reports of a rift with his coach Pep
Guardiola, saying he believed he was left out of the Spanish and
European champions' last two matches for purely sporting
The Spain centre-back was an unused substitute in the
Champions League semi-final first leg defeat at Chelsea last
week and Saturday's reverse in the La Liga 'Clasico' at home to
Real Madrid, prompting further speculation his relationship with
Guardiola had broken down.
Barca host Chelsea in Tuesday's return leg at the Nou Camp
and Pique said he was focusing on working hard to win back his
place in the starting XI.
"This is a new situation for me because I am used to playing
and I haven't had a chance in the last couple of matches," Pique
told a news conference on Monday.
"But it's a technical decision for the manager and he
chooses who plays and you have to respect that," added the
former Manchester United player.
"Every year there are new players and he chooses the team he
thinks most capable of winning.
"I take each match at a time and train hard and try to show
the coach I deserve to be in the team."
Pique has been a key player for Guardiola since the former
Barca and Spain midfielder took charge in 2008, helping the club
to 13 trophies including three successive Spanish league crowns
and two continental titles.
Spanish media reports have suggested Guardiola does not
approve of the high-profile lifestyle Pique leads with his
pop-star girlfriend Shakira and even that the coach has asked
the club to sell the player as a condition for extending his own
contract beyond the end of this season.
"We arrived here together the same year, him as coach and me
as a player," said Pique, who came through Barca's youth ranks
with Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas before moving to United.
"We are part of a very important era for this club and I
really trust him," he added.
"I think he [Guardiola] will stay as he loves this club and
"Our relationship is very, very good and we talk much more
than you might think.
"Our daily contact and our daily discussions are very
"We don't just talk about football, we talk about
everything. He is always tough on me but I like that."
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