Barca boss Setien rejects Madrid's LaLiga favourites tag

By Sports Desk February 14, 2020

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien does not believe Real Madrid should be considered favourites for LaLiga glory this season.

Madrid hold a three-point advantage at the summit over Barca, who have struggled for their best form since Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde last month.

Valverde and Barca won the previous two titles, with the Blaugrana also collecting four of the past five either side of Zinedine Zidane's sole domestic success in 2016-17.

Setien feels the Clasico showdown at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 1 could yet prove to be pivotal.

"Many league titles have been decided on details, in final minutes, in situations that neither of the two teams are able to control," he told a news conference.

"We're just as much favourites as Real Madrid. They have got a three-point advantage but we've got a game there at the Bernabeu and when that moment comes we've got a lot of expectation.

"We know the importance of the game and of course we'll go all out for it."

First, Barca must negotiate a game that might turn a two-way battle into a three-horse race.

Getafe travel to Camp Nou on Saturday sitting third in the table, seven points shy of their hosts but enjoying another exceptional season on the back of a surprise fifth-place finish in 2018-19.

Setien has previously clashed with Jose Bordalas over Getafe's direct style of play and, while he declined to discuss a feuding relationship with his opposite number that dates back to their respective tenures in charge of Segunda Division sides Lugo and Alcorcon, he praised their impressive progress.

"It's clear that we have two different styles. Barca have been playing like this for years, Getafe are playing the way they have been for years," he said.

"The important thing is your plan and way of doing it overcomes the opposition

"We're clear in what we're playing for and how we play. What you have to do, you must to well and I think both of us do that."

On whether Getafe might become a direct rival in LaLiga this term, Setien suggested their forthcoming Europa League obligations – an intriguing last-32 showdown with Ajax – could be a complicating factor.

"The difficult thing for every club is to stay at the top. I don’t know if it's us and Madrid or Getafe [as well], who are on a great run.” said the Barca boss.

"The difficult thing is to keep up that run. There are some difficult games coming up for them in Europe that might take something out of their power in LaLiga.

"Getafe last year stayed up there and this year they're still up there. I don't know if this form is going to be enough to catch us and Real Madrid but we have to consider them rivals."

Related items

  • Pirlo scotches prospect of Suarez joining Ronaldo at Juventus Pirlo scotches prospect of Suarez joining Ronaldo at Juventus

    Andrea Pirlo confirmed it is "unlikely" Luis Suarez will join Juventus from Barcelona but vowed the Serie A champions remain in the hunt for a new striker. 

    Although there is much about Suarez that appeals to Juventus, the process of securing an Italian passport for a player who turns 34 in January is a complication that Pirlo addressed on Saturday. 

    Suarez needs that citizenship to be eligible for a move, given the Bianconeri have filled their quota of non-EU players, and he is reportedly eligible to apply because of his wife's family background. 

    The prospect of Suarez teaming up with former Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus would have been tantalising, with Pirlo having allowed Gonzalo Higuain to join Inter Miami. 

    But Juventus have questions over how long the passport process for Suarez might take, and Pirlo said, quoted in Corriere dello Sport: "It is difficult because looking at the times for the passport ... it is unlikely he will be our centre forward." 

    Suarez has been left out of Barcelona's squad for Sunday's Joan Gamper Trophy match against Elche, with incoming coach Ronald Koeman looking keen to offload him.

    Speaking in a news conference, Juventus head coach Pirlo said: "We are all waiting for the central striker. The transfer market is long. 

    "We are calm and happy with what we have. There is no rush." 

    Pirlo's first competitive game in charge comes on Sunday when Juventus face Sampdoria in Serie A, the Turin giants launching their quest to secure a 10th consecutive Scudetto.

  • Zidane: I have no problems with spectacular Bale Zidane: I have no problems with spectacular Bale

    Gareth Bale's return to Tottenham is yet to be finalised, according to Zinedine Zidane, who hailed the Wales international's "spectacular" contribution to Real Madrid.

    Bale's loan move to Tottenham, who he left to join Madrid in 2013, is expected to be confirmed after he flew to London on Friday and was seen entering the Premier League club's training ground.

    The 31-year-old was an increasingly marginalised figure under Zidane as Madrid won LaLiga last season, cutting quite the contrast to his goalscoring turns in the 2014 and 2018 Champions League finals.

    An apparent breakdown in relations with his coach has been accepted as the main reason for Bale seeking an exit from the Spanish capital but, speaking ahead of the start of his side's LaLiga defence at Real Sociedad, Zidane insisted there was no personality clash.

    "I'm not annoyed that people are blaming me for his departure because it's not like that," the France great told a Saturday news conference.

    "The matter is more complicated than that. What I can say is that we didn't have any problems between us.

    "No one is going to take away what he's done at Real Madrid. We didn't have any problems, it wasn't like that.

    "I wish him the best. I haven't spoken to him. What he's done here has been phenomenal - you can't dispute that because he's won a lot and shown his quality."

    The lack of confirmation of Bale's signing has caused a measure of anxiety among the Tottenham fanbase and Zidane suggested there are still some details to be ironed out.

    "For now, Bale is one of our players," he said "The matter still has to be finalised.

    "We're not going to talk about things that don't make sense. Bale has been spectacular."

    Sergio Regulion is another player set to move from Madrid to Spurs, having travelled alongside Bale.

    The left-back's impressive season on loan with Europa League winners Sevilla was not enough to earn another chance at the Santiago Bernabeu, despite a poll run by newspaper Marca revealing 70 per cent of fans wanted him to stay.

    "The first thing I have to do is congratulate him on last season," Zidane said.

    "We have two players for each position - no more. I have two left-backs and I can't have more because then it's a lot.

    "I wish him the best because he had a good season at Sevilla."

  • Fati back for Gamper Trophy as Koeman leaves out Suarez & Vidal once more Fati back for Gamper Trophy as Koeman leaves out Suarez & Vidal once more

    Ansu Fati is back in the Barcelona squad for the Joan Gamper Trophy match against Elche on Saturday but there is no place once more for Luis Suarez.

    Fati sustained a hip injury during training and sat out the 3-1 friendly win over Girona in midweek but returns to bolster Ronald Koeman's attacking options.

    Suarez is not among those, even as speculation over his future continues to shift.

    Juventus are reported to have withdrawn their interest in the 33-year-old Uruguay international, with Atletico Madrid emerging as contenders for his signature.

    Inter Milan target Arturo Vidal is also not involved and there is no place in the 23-man squad for Riqui Puig.

    The 21-year-old made his first-team breakthrough last season but he is another player rumoured not to be part of Koeman's plans at Camp Nou.

    Lionel Messi returned and scored against Girona following his attempts to leave Barca earlier in the transfer window.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.