Valverde not bothered when Barca are crowned LaLiga champions

By Sports Desk April 23, 2019

Ernesto Valverde said he has no preference over where and when Barcelona are confirmed as LaLiga champions.

A 2-0 win at Deportivo Alaves moved Barca within three points of defending their title, but they will be crowned on Wednesday should nearest rivals Atletico Madrid lose at home to Valencia.

If Atleti make Barca wait, the Catalan giants can make certain of their eighth title in the last 11 seasons at home to Levante on Saturday, before next week's Champions League semi-final clash with Liverpool.

Valverde rested captain Lionel Messi against Alaves, with second-half goals from Carles Alena and Luis Suarez seeing his side through to a comfortable victory at Mendizorroza.

Barca would be able to celebrate clinching the title in front of their own fans should Atletico postpone what is increasingly inevitable, but Valverde has no preference over when his second successive title is confirmed.

"The truth is that there are three final points [to make mathematically sure], but they are very important," Valverde told reporters. "Things have to be concretised and we have been chasing them for a long time.

"Atletico are a competitor who show every day how they do it. We'll see. I do not see Atletico relaxing. We count on that we will need the three points.

"What we want is to win because winning LaLiga is difficult and we will see when it can be. It leaves us on the verge of getting it, three points with four games to play.

"Whatever it has to be, it will be. If, when we start the season, they ask me, any coach would have answered any time."

Barca found it hard to break Alaves down initially, but after Alena's opener was created by Sergi Roberto a VAR-assisted penalty allowed Suarez to double their lead.

"In the end they defended well, defended together," Valverde added. "We had a double chance at the beginning but we did not take advantage and it was a matter of patience. With the 0-1 they have already had to open up."

Valverde brought on Messi at 2-0 and he denied the move was motivated by giving Messi the chance to score more goals in a bid for another individual award.

"The idea was that he'd play because the result wasn't clear when it was goalless at half-time," he said. "The suggestion that it was about the Golden Shoe... well, we focus on winning.

"It was time for him to get some rest today and to come out in the second half. It's good for players to stay involved and active.

"You can't put them away in a case and then just bring them out for one match."

Related items

  • Ronaldo: Maybe I'll retire next year, or I could play into my 40s Ronaldo: Maybe I'll retire next year, or I could play into my 40s

    Juventus and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo remains unsure when he will retire, saying it could be as soon as next year or he could play into his 40s.

    Ronaldo, 34, has continued to star after joining Juve last year, scoring 28 goals in 43 games in all competitions and helping the Italian giants win another Serie A title in 2018-19.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is uncertain when he will stop playing, although the star forward said it may not be far away.

    "I don't think about that," Ronaldo told TVI on Tuesday.

    "Maybe I can leave my career next year … but I can also play up to 40 or 41.

    "I don't know. What I always say is to enjoy the moment. The gift is excellent and I have to continue to enjoy it."

    Along with numerous individual honours, Ronaldo has won a record five Champions League titles (four with Real Madrid and one with Manchester United), three Premier League crowns and two LaLiga trophies.

    Ronaldo wants to make history and is seemingly motivated by setting records.

    "Are there any soccer players who have more records than me?" he asked.

    "I don't think there are any footballers who have more records than me."

    Ronaldo's Juventus begin their Serie A campaign with a trip to Parma on Saturday.

  • Dembele is certain to stay at Barcelona – agent Dembele is certain to stay at Barcelona – agent

    Ousmane Dembele is certain to remain with Barcelona despite interest from elsewhere, according to his agent.

    Dembele, 22, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga champions amid reports he could be included in a deal that would see Barca sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

    However, the France attacker's agent, Moussa Sissoko, said Dembele would stay at Barcelona.

    "Evolving in a club as prestigious and ambitious as FC Barcelona involves a competition that will advance and sublimate any player," Sissoko said in a widely reported statement on Tuesday.

    "In any case, it is the point of view rooted in Ousmane's mind. He is Barcelona and he will remain 1,000 per cent with the firm desire to honour the colours of the club."

    Dembele is set to miss five weeks for Barcelona – who suffered a 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao on Friday – after straining his left hamstring.

    Injuries hampered Dembele's first season at the club after a €105million move from Borussia Dortmund in August 2017, while he scored 14 goals in 42 games in 2018-19.

    However, Dembele is still hungry to deliver for Barcelona despite his injury woes, his agent said.

    "I wanted to clarify firmly and definitively the situation of Ousmane Dembele. He does not plan to leave FC Barcelona for a moment," Sissoko said.

    "This is the course of action fixed for several months now and no element is or will be likely to cause us to deviate. Ousmane feels perfectly well within the club and he remains in his determination to impose himself in the long term.

    "Despite the solicitations of several great European clubs, Ousmane is convinced to be in the heart of the largest of them and everything is there to make it flourish.

    "Ousmane is aware of what he has to do on a daily basis to make his Barcelona adventure a complete success. Unfortunately, his injury temporarily stops him in his motivation to make a great and beautiful season, symbolised by its anticipated recovery of a week.

    "But this has no impact on his thirst for success and he is confident to return as soon as possible."

  • Ajax scrape goalless draw at APOEL in Champions League play-off Ajax scrape goalless draw at APOEL in Champions League play-off

    Ajax held on for a goalless draw at Cypriot club APOEL in the first leg of their Champions League play-off on Tuesday after going down to 10 men.

    Last season's Champions League semi-finalists named a strong starting XI that included several stars of their eye-catching 2018-19 campaign, such as David Neres, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek.

    But they produced a lacklustre and ill-disciplined performance, earning seven yellow cards and one red for Noussair Mazraoui.

    The Dutch side looked the better of the two teams in the first half, but their display was lacking the decisive touch in front of goal.

    After the break, APOEL began to offer more of a threat themselves and went agonisingly close in the 58th minute, when Giorgos Merkis' header hit the crossbar.

    Andre Onana was then forced to make a stunning save 11 minutes later, getting down to palm away a Lucas Souza effort that was destined for the bottom-right corner.

    Things got even more testing for Ajax towards the end when Mazraoui was shown a second yellow card for a needlessly clumsy tackle from behind, but they held on nonetheless.

    Ajax host APOEL in Amsterdam for the second leg next Wednesday.

    In the day's other play-off clashes, Slavia Prague and Club Brugge claimed 1-0 away wins at Cluj and LASK, respectively.

     

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.