Ernesto Valverde has been talking all things El Clasico ahead of Sunday’s match against Real Madrid at Camp Nou.
The boss said he’s already picked his team, although he obviously refused to reveal it, and also spoke about Ousmane Dembele and Arthur.
Here are the best bits...
Valverde on his starting XI
I do have the XI picked but i’m not going to tell you of course. It’s a very different game to the one against Inter and we need to assess everything.
Valverde on Dembele
Arriving one day a little late does not matter. The other day when we were there chatting he was there as he had to be. I don’t think you should take things out of context and focus on Dembele and that’s why he’s not playing. He’s young, yes we have big demands on him but we focus on sporting matters alone.
Valverde on Arthur
We need to discuss his fitness from the other day. This is a big game for him. It’s his first Clasico if he’s fit enough. We expect a lot from him, he’s fitted in well to our philosphy and the fans appreciate that.
Valverde on Coutinho
Coutinho’s a great player, he’s got a great shot, he’s a constant headache for defences because he’s always involved and creating. Of course we want more from him and I’m sure he will do more.
Valverde on Barcelona’s defence
Aainst Sevilla they had lots of chances, there were moments when the game lost control, Against Inter we were much more in control, but I’m convinced that what we really want is the other team not to attack too much because things can happen. You need to limit the chances and then you limit the goals.
Valverde on Real Madrid
To be honest we don’t take too much notice of Real Madrid, of course we can’t avoid it but going into the game we don’t really think too much about things happening at Madrid. We just focus on what they are as a team. They are a team with great players, so we don’t like to look at all the media furore or stats.
We are four points ahead but that’s not a big gap. We need to be ourselves in the way we play, but we do that with or without Messi. Solidarity is a part of our game with or without Messi, that’s why we won the league. We stick together in good moments or bad in every game, in defence, in attack, it’s very important that we play the kind of game we are recognised for.