Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde spoke at a pre-match conference and couldn’t avoid the pressure to squash rumors that his team is agitated in the built-up to Sunday’s derby against Atletico Madrid, an equally strong club in LaLiga.
While media reports confirm Barca are training for the match like it’s a final, a truth Valverde admitted but said its not a potential title decider.
The former player for Mallorca, Barca and Spain national team also highlighted that a win in the game will significantly boost their chances and confidence after dropping points at Las Palmas in the week.
Image: Ernesto Valverde
A win against Diego Simeone’s side will ensure La Blaugranas secure an 8-point lead from the second-placed team and far beyond Real Madrid’s third place position.
“Of course it’s not a final,” Valverde said, “it’s an important game, but there is still a long way to go.”
He added, “The points are important for what they could mean and [also] to stop the gap being cut even more.
“Our advantage is down to just five points after dropping two the other day, so now the points are worth even more and the prize is a juicy one.”
Ahead of game 26 for both teams, Barca remain league leaders with 66 points followed by A. Madrid (62) and R. Madrid (54).
“If we win,” the 54-year-old continued, “we go eight points clear and that’s the intention … Winning would be an important step forward.
“But there’s still so much work to do and a very long way to go in deciding who wins the league, so I don’t consider it a final. But honestly, we will prepare for it as if it’s our last game, as if it’s a final because there’s no other better way to prepare for games against Atletico.”