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Guardiola gunning to go out on a high

BARCELONA can cap four illustrious years under Pep Guardiola with a 14th trophy when they play Athletic Bilbao in tonight's Copa del Rey final.

The match at Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon Stadium will be Guardiola's last in charge of the team, ending an unprecedented period of success for Barcelona since the former player took charge in 2008.

The 41-year-old Guardiola will be looking to finish the way he started, as a 4-1 cup victory over Athletic three years ago provided the first prize for his trophy cabinet.

Ready to hand over the coaching duties to his assistant and good friend Tito Vilanova, Guardiola will look at the game as an opportunity to cap a season that started well but finished poorly.


Barcelona haven't played a meaningful game in a month since they lost to eventual Champions League winners Chelsea in the competition's semi-finals, just days after losing to Real Madrid to surrender a three-year hold on the Spanish league.

"I've got the feeling we are very well prepared for this final," Guardiola said from the Camp Nou last night.

"A final is always there to be won."

A record 26th domestic Cup will at least send Guardiola out on a high and would deliver a fourth trophy in this campaign after Barca won the Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup.

Barcelona remain without injured striker David Villa and their defence is also depleted as Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal and Daniel Alves are all missing. Striker Alexis Sanchez returns from injury while backup goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto -- who has started all Cup games under Guardiola -- should get the nod after missing the last game of the season with an ankle injury.

"The illnesses that befell players we love in this club were the worst thing, everything else turned out well," Guardiola said.