Barcelona’s 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in last Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup shows the vacuum left Neymar Jr. is yet to be filled, and coach Ernesto Valverde admits he needs quality replacements at Camp Nou.
Valverde claims his team’s performance in the match is a far reflection of the scoreline, adding that memories of their loss will likely be forgotten if they work harder.
Eden Hazard, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are some of the players who are within Barca’s radar at the moment.
Barcelona will play against Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, and Valverde believes there’s a chance the scoreline could change history.
However, the 53-year-old Spaniard admitted that La Blaugranas have a very unfortunate aggregate for which he decalred Zinedine Zidane’s men as the favorites.
“Now we have to play a second leg and things are never over after one defeat, or after one victory,” Valverde said.
“We are Barcelona and we want to have the best team,” Valverde said at a post-match interview in reference to his demands for new additions to the team.
“We have time to recruit quality stars until August 31, but I want to evaluate what we already have inside the club,” the coach added.
Cristiano Ronaldo was booked for taking off his shirt to celebrate after canceling Lionel Messi’s equalizer and the famous Portuguese footballer is likely to miss their second leg match of the Spanish Super Cup.
“I don’t have the feeling that we were as far away from our opponents as the scoreboard indicates,” Valverde told reporters.
“They scored three goals, but this was a game in which we played well and had chances.
“Reaching their danger zones isn’t all that matters, as you also need to hit the target. I don’t believe that we’re lacking goal-scoring ability, but they were more clinical,” he acknowledged.
“They caught us in a one-versus-one situation and then scored one wonder goal and then another to make it 3-1. It was an even game and they had a strong central midfield, which made playing inside difficult.
“Their second goal really hurt us. We congratulate them and we will try to improve for the next match.”
Image: Ernesto Valverde
Valverde played for 6 teams, including Barcelona, Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao, in his football career which spanned over 14 years. He later returned to all three clubs as a coach, in addition to stints with Villarreal and Valencia.
The former footballer represented Spain national team only once in their Euro 1992 qualifiers played in Seville. He played for only 20 minutes in that win against Iceland on 10 October 1990.