It is okay to be demanding - Valverde has no problem with Barca whistles

By Sports Desk November 05, 2019

Ernesto Valverde has no problem with his Barcelona side being whistled by the fans at Camp Nou, the coach calling on the players to respond after they were held to a 0-0 Champions League draw by Slavia Prague.

Barca failed to get back to winning ways following their 3-1 LaLiga defeat to Levante at the weekend, piling the pressure on Valverde.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar and he and his team-mates were frequently frustrated by Slavia goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar, who produced an inspired display in between the posts.

Slavia were excellent value for their point, however, with the result leaving Barca still with work to do to progress from Group F.

Speaking afterwards to Movistar, Valverde said: "The other day we lost against Levante and it does not escape us that the last two have not been our best matches.

"We know there is a lot of pressure on the team and we have to respond."

Asked about the whistles, he added: "It is okay to be demanding of the team."

Jordi Alba was replaced at half-time because of a hamstring injury and Valverde said the full-back will have tests to reveal the extent of the issue.

Alba's potential absence is another blow to a Barca defence that will be without Gerard Pique in their next Champions League meeting with Borussia Dortmund on November 27 after receiving his third booking in this European campaign.

Related items

  • Premier League Fantasy Picks: Fernandes a vital choice as Man Utd get started Premier League Fantasy Picks: Fernandes a vital choice as Man Utd get started

    The new 2020-21 season is really kicking into gear as Premier League matchweek two approaches.

    After prior European commitments delayed Manchester City and Manchester United starting their respective campaigns, there is a full slate of matches this weekend.

    That means there is plenty of opportunity for fantasy managers to make up for missing out on Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy or even Jeff Hendrick last week.

    Need to get back on track or build on a strong start? This Opta-powered selection provides some must-haves for the coming round of matches.

     

    EMILIANO MARTINEZ

    Picking an Arsenal goalkeeper heading into the campaign was slightly risky business with two vying for the first-choice spot. Fortunately, with Emiliano Martinez leaving for Aston Villa, the matter has been settled.

    From his first start last season on June 25, following Bernd Leno's injury, Martinez made more saves (31) than any other top-flight keeper and only trailed Nick Pope (85.3) and Ederson (81.8) in terms of save percentage (81.1). He kept three clean sheets, too.

    Only Bournemouth and Norwich City - both relegated - managed fewer clean sheets than Villa's seven last term, yet one of those came at home to Monday's visitors Sheffield United.

     

    LUCAS DIGNE

    Everton left-back Lucas Digne was certainly worth having on the opening weekend. He contributed to a clean sheet at Tottenham and also supplied the assist for Dominic Calvert-Lewin's decisive goal.

    But that display was no one-off.

    Only Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (both 13) have more Premier League assists from defence than Digne (eight) since the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

    Over that same spell, the Frenchman ranks second for chances created (73) and passes played into the box (320) by defenders and third (150) in terms of open-play crosses. He can test out that supply line at home to West Brom.

     

    TARIQ LAMPTEY

    Although beaten against former club Chelsea last time out, Tariq Lamptey continues to show himself to be an all-round package for Brighton and Hove Albion.

    From right-back, the 19-year-old has created the most chances from open play (eight - tied with two others), supplied the most crosses (24), completed the most dribbles (17) and made the most interceptions (19) of any Brighton player since June 2020.

    If Brighton get a result at Newcastle United, Lamptey is likely to be in the points.

     

    WILLIAN

    New signing Willian gave Arsenal fans and fantasy managers alike a taste of what they can expect on opening day.

    At Fulham, he became the first player to contribute two assists on his Premier League debut for Arsenal since Ray Parlour against Liverpool in August 1992.

    Since June 2020, Willian trails only Robertson (six) in terms of assists (four) and Kevin De Bruyne (40) for chances created (28), with struggling West Ham up next at home.

     

    BRUNO FERNANDES

    Joining in January, Bruno Fernandes quickly established himself as a star fantasy performer last season. There is little reason to suggest he will not be similarly effective this term.

    The Manchester United midfielder has been involved in 20 goals (including eight assists) in all competitions since his arrival from Sporting CP, the most of any of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's players.

    Indeed, Fernandes leads the way across the whole Premier League in that regard, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (17 involvements) second. United face Crystal Palace.

     

    HARRY KANE

    Tottenham talisman Harry Kane has tended to start Premier League seasons slowly, but his record against Southampton - this week's opponents - is particularly impressive.

    The England captain has nine goals in his past nine league games against the Saints, only tallying more often in clashes with Leicester City (14) and Arsenal (10).

    Kane will no doubt be determined to continue that scoring streak this weekend, having suffered a torn hamstring at Southampton in January that checked his 2019-20 campaign.

     

    JAMIE VARDY

    Needed to check he has still got it? Vardy again proved his worth with a brace for Leicester against West Brom last week.

    Those strikes improved his total since the start of last season to 25 in the league, while he also leads the way for shot conversion rates (27.47 per cent) among those with 10 or more goals in that time.

    Even at 33, it is too early to write off Vardy, who will aim to dampen Burnley's new-season optimism on Sunday.

  • Rumour Has It: Liverpool, Man Utd chase Sarr as Atletico consider Suarez Rumour Has It: Liverpool, Man Utd chase Sarr as Atletico consider Suarez

    Liverpool and Manchester United could be set for another transfer battle.

    The Premier League rivals were both reportedly interested in Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who is set for a move to Anfield.

    Now it seems they could be targeting the same player once more.

     

    TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL, MAN UTD TARGET SARR

    Liverpool have enquired about Watford star Ismaila Sarr, according to the Daily Mail.

    It reports Watford want at least £36million for the 22-year-old forward, who scored five goals and provided four assists in 28 Premier League games last season.

    Meanwhile, The Independent says Manchester United are looking at Sarr as they continue to be frustrated in their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - What is next for Luis Suarez? Goal reports Roma striker Edin Dzeko is set to join Juventus on a two-year deal, dashing Barcelona forward Suarez's hopes of heading to the Serie A champions. Fabrizio Romano says Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Suarez, while he also claims Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik is getting closer to a Roma switch.

    - Gareth Bale's return to Tottenham is almost done. Sky Sports reports the Real Madrid attacker will fly to London from Spain on Friday after completing a medical, returning to Spurs after leaving for the LaLiga giants in 2013.

    - Staying at Tottenham and The Sun claims Spurs had a transfer enquiry for forward Danny Ings rejected by Southampton. Ings enjoyed a prolific 2019-20 season, scoring 22 Premier League goals.

    - After a difficult first season at Real Madrid, Luka Jovic is apparently considering his options. According to Marca, the Serbian forward is studying a temporary loan move from the LaLiga champions.

    - At Madrid's rivals, Barcelona, more movement is also expected. Mundo Deportivo reports Ronald Koeman wants Ajax full-back Sergino Dest if Nelson Semedo leaves the club.

    - Could Chelsea's spending spree continue? The Independent reports West Ham star Declan Rice is yet to decide whether to push for a move to Stamford Bridge, where the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva are new arrivals.

  • Barca can win LaLiga but little else – Schuster Barca can win LaLiga but little else – Schuster

    Former Barcelona midfielder Bernd Schuster said he can see the embattled club winning LaLiga but little else in 2020-21.

    Barca are coming off a trophy-less season and superstar captain Lionel Messi's unsuccessful attempt to leave Camp Nou.

    President Josep Maria Bartomeu is also under increasing pressure following Messi's transfer request.

    As Barca prepare for their LaLiga opener against Villarreal on September 26, ex-Real Madrid player and head coach Schuster told Onda Cero: "I see Barca winning LaLiga but little else.

    "The radical overhaul at Barca included selling Messi. That's what I believe the people at the club thought." 

    Ronald Koeman is at the helm after Barca opted to sack head coach Quique Setien, who had only replaced Ernesto Valverde in January.

    Barca were dethroned by bitter rivals Madrid last season and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

    "When a new coach arrives at a club, you can't overhaul the squad. It's a mistake because they might be forced to stay and you're off to a bad start," German Schuster, who won LaLiga and five other trophies during his time at Barca from 1980 to 1988, said.

    "Barca are going through a tough moment and a radical change was needed. But this transition period might take a couple of years."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.