Jordi Roura, Tito Vilanova's second-in-command, confirmed today that his boss will be on the bench at La Rosaleda tomorrow to lead his team against Málaga in the first of three matches the two teams will dispute in the space of two weeks, one in the Liga, two in the Copa.
Roura acknowleged that the players are affected by Tito's situation, and that his presence in Málaga is a fantastic piece of news for the group: "Tito is very strong and he's really up for it. It's a boost for everyone; it's really important that he's there."
The match against Málaga concludes the first half of the season for a Barcelona who could make history: so far they've beaten everybody with the exception of a draw in the Clásico. Roura admits it's an exciting prospect for the team, but says they won't lose sight of the main objective: "When the players prepare for a match they don't think about that, just about winning. But it's true it's an extra motivation and a challenge. It's not something that's changing our approach in any way but it would be nice to achieve it."
Despite the fact the confidence is currently sky high at the Camp Nou, Roura said that his players are aware they won't win everything, and a slip will eventually come. "It's inevitable: one day we'll lose, and statistically speaking that day is always coming closer. We just focus on this match and nothing else. We're thinking about winning this one without bearing in mind all the ones gone by. One day we'll lose, but we want it to be as far away as possible."
Regarding the opponents, the assistant coach had words of praise for Málaga's team and their coach, Manuel Pellegrini: "I know they had financial problems and I don't know what shape the club is in but I do know it doesn't show on the pitch. They're having an extraordinary campaign under the guidance of a special coach. We know they'll be tough opponents and it'll be a really difficult match." He also affirmed that Barça aren't expecting special marking for Xavi despite the fact Pellegrini marked out the midfielder as "the cog the team's game spins around."
Finally, he confirmed that Villa has felt a resurgence of the muscular problems that stopped him finishing the match against Córdoba, and he had words of praise for Pedro, who is approaching the fifth anniversary of his first team debut. "He's one of the academy players who's come on the most. He went from playing in Barça B to being a world champion. He's scored a lot of important goals and been a champion of Europe; it's all been said. He's an example for all players at the club and in the academy for his performances and also his attitude."