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Valverde talks Messi man-marking, Iniesta, Paco Alcacer and Semedo ahead of Sporting clash

The coach has been speaking to the press again

FC Barcelona Press Conference Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde and his Barcelona team are in Lisbon to take on Sporting in the Champions League and before the game he’s had his usual grilling from the press.

On the agenda this time were Lionel Messi being man-marked, Paco Alcacer not being in the squad and a whole host of other players including Sergi Roberto, Andres Iniesta and Paulinho.

Here are the best bits...

Valverde on Sporting

“They are a very strong team, they had a great season last year and they’ve started really well.

“We will have to be very careful with their wide players, they are quick and they deal with the centre of the park really well. They dominate the football so we must try to take the initiative but we also have to be careful with them on the counter.”

Valverde on Iniesta

“He is clearly a fundamental player for us that's why he's playing so many games. It would be a lie to say we don't miss him when he’s not on the field.

“He marks the way we play, he has done that throughout his career he is a very important part of the team.

“Let’s see to what extent for the rest of the season. There is no doubt that he is going to play a lot of football and hopefully as well as he has done up until now.”

Valverde on Messi being man-marked

“Every team is free to adopt whatever attacking tactics or marking they want. They can play whatever defensive tactics they want, it’s up to them and it’s up to us to work around it.

“If they go for man-marking, or zones, whatever we have to deal with that. From an individual and a team point of view.”

Valverde on Paco Alcacer

“He was in the squad for the Girona game so what can I say? Who knows what is going to happen in the future? There are 24 players in the squad. I can't pick all the players, UEFA won’t allow it.”

Valverde on Nelson Semedo

“Tomorrow we have an away game and there’s a good chance he will start.

“Nelson has been adapting slowly to the team. It’s not easy to join the dynamic of play that we have here, they way Barcelona plays.

“He found it quite hard at first, but he has improved a lot. Every time he plays you really know, not just attacking but defending, he’s quick. I’m sure he’s going to help us a lot.”

Valverde on Sergi Roberto

“He can play in different positions and I’m sure he will continue to do so, that’s one of his virtues, versatility.

“Last year he was more of a right-back, this season he's alternating. The fact is I like versatile players they give you different possibilities.

“Sergi Roberto isn't just a midfielder and a full back he can play in other positions further back and further forward.”

Valverde on Paulinho

“We are very happy with Paulinho. He does a lot for the team, he’s blended into the team very well, with his team mates.

“We are very, very satisfied with what we have got from him. But most of all with the way he's integrated with the squad.”

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