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Guardiola defends his Barcelona shadow squad

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is defending his selection for their Supa Copa second-leg clash with Sevilla.

The Barca boss left out Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, David Villa and Victor Valdes from his starting line-up for the game in Seville last Saturday because the players were nowhere near match fit.

The octet had only just returned to Barca training following extended holidays after their World Cup triumph in South Africa and then jetted off - bar Iniesta - to Mexico with Spain for a friendly just days before the Sevilla match, which Guardiola's side lost 3-1 at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

The eight are now available for selection and Barca look set to field a much stronger side than in the first leg, but Guardiola is refusing to take any risks with his top performers.

"Some of them are not ready to play 90 minutes, but others are because they had been doing working previously," he said. "We need more time for the internationals - perhaps another two weeks."

Guardiola says he will not use the absence of his Spain stars as an excuse should Barca fail to overturn their 3-1 first-leg deficit.

"If we don't win the Supercup it won't be because we have had a disadvantage in terms of footballers, but because we haven't done well enough," he said. "The players could have only had two weeks rest (and been ready in time), but they deserved their holidays."

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