At various points over the past two summers, Ernesto Valverde was being considered as a potential candidate for the twice-vacant manager role at FC Barcelona; as a player he had a (brief) history with the club and as a manager, he had been relatively successful, guiding RCD Espanyol to the UEFA Cup final back in 2007, and more recently leading Olympiacos, in style, to a trio of Greek championships. His playing philosophy was similar enough to the tiki-taka brand, but equally nuanced so that, if implemented, it would have added an extra dimension to the Catalan giants.
Despite last season's UEFA Champions League disappointment, Sandro Rosell evidently made the correct decision in promoting Tito Vilanova as Barcelona cruised to the La Liga title, and time will tell whether the decision to hire Gerardo Martino will prove successful; early evidence in certainly stacked in favour of the Argentine tactician. So for now, the managerial role at the Camp Nou is nothing but a distant dream for Ernesto Valverde, but does it really matter? The future appears bright at Athletic Bilbao, who have recovered from last season's mediocre displays to return to contention for a European qualification berth.
In fact, a UEFA Champions League place is within touching distance for Los Leones; a win tonight against the table-topping Blaugrana would see them leapfrog Villarreal into fourth place. Can Valverde mastermind a victory tonight at San Mames, or will Barcelona's injury-hit squad rebound from Tuesday's 2-1 loss against AFC Ajax? Predict the score of tonight's match by commenting with your prediction below. Best of luck!
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