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Guardiola insists he's optimistic as pressure mounts

BARCELONA boss Pep Guardiola insists he is not feeling the pressure as he trusts his players to rise to the occasion in tonight's do-or-die Champions League clash with Chelsea.

The Catalans head into the semi-final second leg on the back of successive defeats, losing 1-0 to the Blues in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge and then suffering a home defeat by arch rivals Real Madrid on Saturday.

Guardiola looked frustrated during yesterday's press conference at the Nou Camp, where his selection and tactics were questioned. The Barca manager swore in one response but insisted he was relaxed heading into the match thanks to his players.

He said: "I don't know if this is the most important moment of my career as a coach, but I have always faced these challenges with a lot of optimism as I believe in my players and team.

"Whenever you have a defeat, the day after the match you feel a little low but afterwards you get faith in the facts and I am optimistic because I know them well and that we will work hard. We try to cover everything that is important so we just try to do that.

"We will analyse the challenge and I think we have had other challenges over the years.

"I cannot really tell you if this is the most important challenge of my life."

Barcelona's chance of overhauling the 1-0 deficit against Chelsea has been boosted by Lionel Messi's fitness.

The reigning world player of the year missed training on Sunday but returned yesterday in an open media session at the Nou Camp.

Gerard Pique also trained and Guardiola batted away talk of a rift with the Spain international, who has been left out of the past two matches.

"Leo had a gastric issue," Guardiola explained. "The doctor saw him and he called us before the training session.

"He didn't go to it as he didn't feel well but now he is okay.

"As for Gerard, there is no problem at all. He has had an injury for a long time. I have many players and can choose Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol, who are a good combination in central defence. I do appreciate Gerard. The rest is just my decision, the fact he plays or not."