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Euro 2012

Spain sharp-shooter David Villa close to return to action, says Pique

The Barcelona could make it back for the Copa del Rey final on Friday… and Vicente del Bosque’s Euro 2012 squad, Ireland fans.

BARCELONA DEFENDER Gerard Pique says team-mate David Villa could make his eagerly-awaited return in Friday’s Copa del Rey final.

The forward has been out of action since fracturing his tibia in December last year, but is hoping to prove his fitness to Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque in time for Euro 2012 by returning to action against Athletic Bilbao.

“I see that he’s doing well,” Pique told reporters today.  ”He has had a major injury, but is eager and every day is like a final for him. I can see him making the Copa final.”

The game at the Vicente Calderon is also of huge significance to Pep Guardiola, as it will be his last outing before he steps down as Barcelona coach after four successful seasons. Pique has been in and out of Barcelona’s starting line-up recently, amid reports he has fallen out with his coach.

But the centre-back said he would be sorry to see Guardiola depart Camp Nou.

“His departure will be traumatic for me,” the former Manchester United defender said.  ”I feel like I’m a better player because of him and the whole team has learned a lot from him.

“He will leave a gap, but (successor) Tito (Vilanova) will move us forward and do very well. Tito speaks the language of Barcelona.”

As for Barca’s hopes of ending Guardiola’s tenure with a 14th trophy, Pique is taking nothing for granted against an Athletic side he respects.

“With (coach Marcelo) Bielsa, Athletic press a lot and it will be a very intense game,” the 25-year-old said. ”I see no favourite. It is a 50-50 game. So, we will fight hard to take the title.”

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