A tumour operation
undergone by Pep Guardiola's assistant coach Tito Vilanova on
Tuesday has overshadowed Barcelona's trip to play AC Milan in
the Champions League.
The clash between the European giants has been eagerly
anticipated after Milan's Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic
made disparaging comments about his former coach Guardiola in a
recently published autobiography.
The news that Vilanova underwent surgery on his saliva
glands as the team flew out to Italy dominated the pre-match
build-up, though, the club saying the operation had been
satisfactory and that he would be laid low for three to four
"I don't know how Tito is because the operation has only
just finished but I hear it is positive news," Guardiola told a
"Tito is an extraordinary person and we hope he will soon be
back with the squad again and able to get back to an ordinary
"[The impact on the squad] was similar to the news regarding
Eric Abidal although they are different problems.
"We will go out and do what he has helped us to do in recent
years but the most important thing is his health."
The European and Spanish champions were rocked last season
when defender Abidal needed surgery to remove a liver tumour,
though the French international was able to make a triumphant
return to lift the Champions League trophy in May.
When Guardiola was asked about the meeting with his former
striker Ibrahimovic, who left the Nou Camp under a cloud last
year, he played it down.
"I don't have any kind of problem with Mister Ibrahimovic
and I always believe you should act normally," Guardiola
"If we meet, I will say hello like the sportsmen that we
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