Pep wary of Russian trip
Pep Guardiola claims Barcelona must get over the sub-zero temperatures for Wednesday's clash at Rubin Kazan.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 03/11/09 8:36pm
Pep Guardiola has told his Barcelona players to get over the sub-zero temperatures if they are to get a result in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League clash at Rubin Kazan.
The holders may have overcome the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United en route to European glory last season, but the Catalan outfit face a new challenge when they play in Russia midweek - the freezing weather conditions.
With temperatures expected to plummet to minus seven Celsius, there will be no less than 25 degrees' difference to what the Barca stars are accustomed to at the Camp Nou in Spain.
And as Barca aim to keep top spot in Group F, boss Guardiola has warned his players that they must adapt to the climate instantly or risk endangering their chances of defending the trophy.
"It's going to be cold and that's the way it is, we can't afford to think about it a second longer," Guardiola said in Tuesday's pre-match press conference.
"If the team wants to achieve great things this year it has to be able to cope with cold places and muddy pitches."
Argentina forward and World Player of the Year front-runner Lionel Messi admitted he had never played in such temperatures before but insists it will not faze him or his team-mates.
"To win we'll have to just ignore it," he said after acclimatising to the bitter environment in training. "The important thing is to play a good match."
Group F, which contains four national champions, is currently the tightest group in the competition and no team can secure a spot in the knockout round on Wednesday.
Barca, Rubin and Dynamo Kiev are level on four points from three matches while Inter Milan sit bottom on three after drawing with Kiev at the San Siro.
Rubin pulled off the shock of the tournament in the previous gameweek, beating Barca 2-1 in their own back-yard and Guardiola confessed that he was not expecting Inter or his side to coast into the next round.
"It's going to be hard for all four teams," he said. "It's a very high quality group."