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Ernesto Valverde talks Lionel Messi, Malcom and Ousmane Dembele ahead of Villarreal

The latest from the Barcelona boss

Real Betis Balompie v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde has held his pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Villarreal in La Liga.

The Barcelona boss talked about resting Lionel Messi, the title race, the Champions League, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele.

Here are the best bits:

Valverde on resting Lionel Messi

There is never an ideal time to rest a player like him. But we’ll see tomorrow. We think this match is very important. Many are looking ahead to Atletico Madrid, but the three points on offer in this match are much the same as those on offer against Atletico.

Valverde on Malcom and Coutinho

These are situations that happen during the season. Sometimes one player is better than another, sometimes it’s the other way around in terms of form. Everyone always talks about forwards, but what we are expecting and hoping for is the best Coutinho, the best Malcom and the best Dembele

Valverde on Dembele

I’m not completely certain when we will have him back. It might be Saturday, it might be against Man Utd. I can’t give an exact date, but around about that time.

Valverde on Griezmann

The fact he is being spoken about is not destabilising for us or for Atletico, It’s just the same as last year. People always talk about our players as well, it’s habitual.

Valverde on La Liga

We have nine more games if we win six we’ll be champions, that’s the reality. The best thing to do is keep putting away game after game. Having to win six games only doesn’t mean we’ve won the league we still have to do a lot before that hpppens.

Valverde on Villarreal

Our opponents are going through a difficult situation. They were winning 2-0 the other day and then ended up losing to Celta Vigo. They’re far down the table, but have had many good matches against the likes of Sevilla, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, plus they’re in the Europa League quarter-finals. It’s often tough for us to beat them.

Valverde on the Champions League

Historically when Barca have won the Champions League, they’ve won La Liga too. I know that’s a competition which the fans love, the players and everyone, but the Champions League can betray you in any game, in 15 bad minutes.

By contrast, in La Liga, you judge yourself from the first minute to the last of the season. It’s our bread and butter, it’s how you judge yourself each week.

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