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Valverde talks Roma, injuries and Iniesta future ahead of Athletic Bilbao clash

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Barcelona Training and Press Conference Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde has faced the press ahead of tomorrow’s game with Athletic and has been talking about the Champions League draw and Andres Iniesta’s future amongst other things.

Here’s a look at the best bits...

Valverde on Roma

In the Champions League quarter-finals any team you have to face is tough. You have to look at the team you’re going to play. We didn’t want to play Real Madrid or Sevilla because we know them and they’re in our league. But Roma are going to be very tough, you never know what’s going to happen. Roma beat Chelsea, who were tough here, 3-0. They played well against Atletico, our top rival in La Liga. Anything can happen. We have a lot of work to do because we know the potential they have.

They have a great coach, they have Monchi who knows us very well, you only have to see them play at Stamford Bridge, they scored three, we only scored one there and we suffered. I have a lot of respect for them. All this about Roma being the best draw for Barcelona - I don’t believe that one bit. For us it’s a very tough rival I have no doubt about that.

Valverde on Paco Alcacer

He looks good, he’s training well, there’s a lot of competition for places in these positions. Some have played more, some have played less, but I see him ready to go.

Valverde on injuries

Vermaelen ran into Cuenca during a taining session and he was in a lot of pain. But after a few medical tests we think he’ll be ok soon. Denis and Semedo we think after the international break they’ll be back with us and we have to see about Busquets. We have a squad ready for tomorrow and we’re confident going into the game.

Valverde on facing Athletic

The countdown is on. After the international break we have a tough April, in which it is make or break time for our season. That’s why it is important to start out by winning against Athletic. If people had said we’d be in this situation at the start of the season I’d have signed on the dotted line and I’ve have done it in my own blood.

Valverde on Andre Gomes’s reception against Chelsea

I think it was good, it was nice to see the people there behind the player, not just Andre Gomes but any player. It’s good to see that kind of reaction and out on the field that’s where he has to produce

Valverde on whether Alena is Iniesta’s heir

Iniesta is one of a kind. You can’t compare him for the most part with anyone. Alena is a player with a bright future at this club without any question

Valverde on Rakitic

I think he’s had an extraordinary season, he’s completely reliable. He helps you bring the ball up the field, he gets into the final third, he played central midfield, attacking midfield with Sevilla and he looks good there. Players do move position in their careers, they don’t always stay in the same position they started with. Rakitic is a very important player for us.

Valverde on being without Suarez and Busquets

It’s always bad news to lose players of their calibre. Busquets is a player who is totally necessary for our team and Suarez brings pressure way up the field, non-stop and he’s very good at moving around and staying with the defenders as they try to bring the ball up the field which is great for us. Athletic are very strong, they have very strong central defenders and not having Luis up there for us is a little bit of a problem. But we have to work around it.

Valverde on Iniesta’s future

It’s up to him, it doesn’t surprise me at all. I’m not thinking about next season. You always want to think about things coming up but I’m not thinking about next season yet and who might be here and who might not be. I don’t want to have to think about Barcelona without Andres.

Valverde on Neymar

I dont have anything to say. I wouldn’t say don’t come here. He’s a great player everyone knows it. He’s a good player that’s the truth