Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona coach, has played down the impact of his side's changed travel plans after the team were forced to travel by coach to Milan for their Champions League semi-final first leg against Inter tomorrow. The volcanic ash cloud spreading across Europe from Iceland has played havoc with international air travel this week, with a number of fixtures cancelled and sportsmen and women unable to travel to events.
Barca's board held an emergency meeting after Saturday's 0-0 derby draw with Espanyol and decided to leave for Milan after training yesterday. The Primera Liga leaders travelled in two buses on the 634km journey to Cannes, France, yesterday and stayed overnight before covering the final 351km to Milan today, the club said on their website. After the Espanyol game, Guardiola played down the significance of a possible road trip to northern Italy. "We will not have the desired recovery, but there are many teams in the Segunda B [Spanish third tier] who travel 16 or 17 hours by coach every week," he told reporters.
"A semi-final is enough to help anyone get over any tiredness." Uefa told Reuters yesterday that their travel department and other officials had been in close contact with all four Champions League clubs and that there were no problems with the travelling teams reaching their destinations. Bayern Munich are at home against Lyon in the second semi-final on Wednesday. "Barcelona are travelling to Milan by bus and Lyon are also planning to go to Germany by road as well," said Rob Faulk-ner, Uefa's director of communications. He added the situation regarding Thursday's Europa League semis between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool in Spain and Hamburg and Fulham in Germany would be reviewed today.
* Compiled by Thomas Woods, with agencies