Valverde: “The tie is only slightly tilted in our favour”


Barça coach emphasises importance of KO competition and avoids commenting on politics

Ernesto Valverde, ahead of the Copa del Rey return leg against Celta, made it clear that he is definitely interested in winning the competition: “To think that with a 0-0 scoreline we’ll go through does not work in our favour. We’ll be going out to win because we are interested in the Copa. I won it as a player, but I still haven’t as a coach, and I’d like to. My players think the same way and I don’t think anybody is going to look down on it just because we’ve won it several times in a row. We’re not going out to look for a 0-0 draw, because that could lead to us making mistakes, the tie is only slightly tilted in our favour because of the away goal.”

Valverde was quite clear about his ideas when asked about the squad: “I like smaller squads, because then you have fewer players to leave out. Also, I like Barça’s model, with great players. The model has always been the same. They have always gone to the transfer market to sign the best players in the world. Many of the very best players have played here, and with Coutinho coming in the squad is improved. At the same time, we always try to look at the academy. We want to bring players up [to the first team] based on their style of play and their development.”

Valverde did not want to be drawn on political questions: “So they are going to give out 20,000 flags in favour of Junqueras and the other imprisoned politicians? I don’t know. I’ve already been asked about this subject many times before. We are going to go out and try to win the game, nothing more than that.”

The points advantage Barça have over Real Madrid in LaLiga also came up during the press conference: “Really, I don’t know what I would be thinking if we were 16 points adrift. No idea. I cannot know that.” Valverde did, on the other hand, have some words about Iago Aspas: “He’s a very good player, a very dangerous one. He scores against Madrid, against Barça and against anyone, because he’s a great player. He’s a born winner, and I love that.”