Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola hit back at Real Madrid counterpart Jose Mourinho as a stunning war of words erupted between the rival coaches ahead of tonight's Champions League semi-final first leg.
Speaking yesterday, Mourinho launched a stinging attack on Guardiola regarding comments the Barca coach was supposed to have made about certain refereeing decisions.
Mourinho, referring to an example following last week's Copa del Rey final between Madrid and Barca regarding a disallowed Pedro Rodriguez goal for offside, said Guardiola had created a new group of coaches - one that criticises officials when they make correct decisions.
"Up until now we've had two groups of coaches," said the Portuguese. "[There's] a very small group who didn't talk about referees. Then there's a larger group, of which I'm included, of coaches that criticises referees when they make big mistakes.
"And with Pep's statements we've come to a third group, which is a one person group, who criticises good decisions made by the referee. I've never seen this before."
Guardiola refused to take the comments lying down, though, and launched an angry response during his press conference yesterday evening.
The Barca coach said: "Tomorrow at 8.45 we will meet each other on the pitch. Off the pitch he has already won.
"In this room (press room), he's the f*****g chief, the f*****g man, the person who knows everything about the world and I don't want to compete with him at all.
"It's a type of game I'm not going to play because I don't know how.
"I won't justify my words. I congratulated Madrid for the cup that they won deservedly on the pitch and against a team that I represent and of which I feel very proud."
He added: "Off the pitch, he has already won, as he has done all year.
"On the pitch, we'll see what happens."
Guardiola continued: "If you think that his allegation that I always complain about the referees is true after you've all heard form me over the last three years, well there's nothing I can do. Off the pitch there's nothing we can do to fight that."
Although Guardiola seemed to have been ruffled by Mourinho's apparent mind games, the Barca coach insisted his players would not be affected by all this.
He said: "Do you think the players will run more because I've spoken to Jose through the cameras? It's the Champions League semi-finals. The players won't be motivated by this, they know what I think about everything associated with this game."
Regarding the match, Barca suffered a blow this evening when midfielder Andres Iniesta was ruled out with a calf injury.
Iniesta therefore joins Eric Abidal, Maxwell, Adriano and Bojan Krkic on the sidelines, although there was good news with captain Carles Puyol - who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury - coming through this evening's training session unscathed.
When asked if Iniesta would be fit for next week's second leg, Guardiola said: "We hope that he will be recovered. As for who will play in his place, I don't know. I don't have many players to pick from but someone will step in and we'll see what we can do.
"I feel confident about the players we have. We are coming here proud to defend our style of play, with 12 home-grown players and set to face a team in the semi-finals who have nine European Cups and seven great forwards."
Quoting Albert Einstein, accusing Pep Guardiola of criticising referees even when they get decisions right, and then calming euphoria among his own supporters by saying he had “no magic potion” to stop Barcelona: Jose Mourinho was on top form as he prepared for tonight's Champions League semi-final first leg.