Barca’s Pep Guardiola and Gerard Pique insist there’s no trouble

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The stakes are high as Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola and star defender Gerard Pique smooth over their differences – if there really are any – ahead of Tuesday’s huge Champions League semifinal.

Spanish media have reported problems between the two. If there are, Pique is hiding it well, calmly revealing to assembled writers and broadcasters Monday that he truly wants what’s best for the team. “For me, the important issue isn’t whether I play tomorrow,” he said. “Probably for the press it is. For me, the main thing is that we win and reach the final.”

The smooth center back has been an important part of Barcelona success for most of the last four years but recently lost his starting spot. Pique hasn’t started in five matches, last appearing in the Champions League quarters against AC Milan. He has recovered from a thigh injury suffered that night but is now watching as Guardiola prefers Javier Mascherano alongside Carles Puyol’s on the Nou Camp back line.

Guardiola has to get it right, as Chelsea’s main strike threat appears healthy enough to play. Didier Drogba’s presence means Barca may require the bigger to Pique to handle him.

Pique, by the way, is defending Drogba, who spent much of last week’s game eating away precious minutes and infuriating Blaugrana players and supporters.