Valverde ‘considering false 9 Messi’

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has revealed that he is considering the possibility of playing Lionel Messi as a false 9 again.

Messi starred in the then-revolutionary take on a deep-lying striker during Barca’s ‘tiki-taka’ years, before Luis Enrique moved the No 10 back to the right wing.

“I expect a Betis side that will try to push on and want to take the initiative,” began Valverde at a Press conference for the Catalans’ opening visit of Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday.

“They’re a team that portray the image of their Coach. I’m expecting a game in which the team that know how to deal with pressure will have the pitch to run and create chances. They’ve played against great teams like Inter and Milan.

“Iniesta didn’t train, Paulinho trained yesterday but it’s still early for him, while Pique worked. We’ll see with them.

“Suarez? He’s a big miss for us. We know his quality and we’ll see if he can recover quickly.

“Barcelona attacks? These are regrettable circumstances and the club are in solidarity with the victims.

“It was a hard and different day for those who lived through it. We’re with all of them.

“The matches against Madrid have served me a lot. We lost them, but we showed good things on occasions.

“We know we must learn a lot [from those two games], but football changes a lot in three days.

“We returned from the tour happy but then we had a big loss [Neymar]. Everything is there to be learnt from and for us to change a few things.

“With regard to Suarez’s injury, these are things that can happen. We always have to consider that possibility.

“Losing to your biggest rivals is always a problem because you have the enthusiasm of winning your first trophy.

“As for the loss of Neymar, it was sudden and surprising and it forced us to change the script we had, regarding the team.

“We have to work in the same direction, albeit in another way, to reinforce ourselves, but we have to take a step forward.

“It’s true that we must find our own way, in terms of the players we have. You have to get used to the loss of important or injured players quickly, but I’m clear on our style.

“We want to dominate games from the first minute to the last, while being aggressive, but we must adapt to the present.

“We must have resources against teams that press you very hard and look for solutions.

“Football’s changed a lot. When I was a player, squads were completed as early as July 15 and now [teams] are rushing.

“These circumstances are not alien to clubs, but we want to have the squad completed on August 31.

“Messi’s our most important player, he’s the best player in the world. That’s how lucky we are, but we must help each other.

“He has a clear role in attack, but we must find the approach that makes him feel at ease and allows him to play his game and supply the others. All eyes are on him.

“I’d like the market to close before starting the League so we can work with the necessary mechanisms to face the fronts we’re competing on.

“Messi as a false 9? I’m considering all possibilities, especially those that give us balance in attack and defence.

“We’re calm and we echo the reaction of the people at Placa Catalunya with the cry of ‘we’re not afraid’. The best way is to move on.

“As things stand, we can all be potential victims in a subway station or a busy place.

“The challenge facing me is still the most beautiful. I want to start the season by giving an answer to the difficulties we’ve been faced with. I’m at a great team.

“The problems are there to be dealt with. It’s the same in a match. We can never lose face for a match.

“Alcacer? Certainly, there will be possibilities for him and other players. He found it difficult at first but had good numbers in the end. The idea is for him to help us.

“Paulinho? He develops in the middle of the park but pushes on. He handles central midfield and the final third well thanks to his strength.

“We’re waiting to see more of him in training to see how we can adapt [to his characteristics].

“Betis? The priority is to win and play well. I don’t know how to win by playing badly.

“Sometimes it happens, but if you want the coin to land ‘heads’, you have to play well.

“Coutinho and Dembele? What’s clear is that I’d like the squad to be completed as soon as possible and in line with the demands placed upon us. We hope everything’s going well.”

Barcelona (probable): Ter Stegen; Vidal, Mascherano, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Gomes; Messi, Alcacer, Deulofeu

Injuries/suspensions: Iniesta, Ortola, Rafinha, Suarez (I), Paulinho (absent)

Real Betis (probable): Adan; Barragan, Mandi, Feddal, Durmisi; Javi Garcia, Camarasa, Guardado; Fabian; Joaquin, Sergio Leon

Injuries/suspensions: Boudebouz (doubtful)

Referee: Trujillo Suarez

Previous meeting: Betis 1-1 Barca

Kick-off time: 19:15 BST/20:15 local time (LIVE on Football Espana)

Tags Ernesto Valverde Lionel Messi