Valverde rejects ‘favourites’ tag

Barcelona Coach Ernesto Valverde rejected claims his side were favourites for their Champions League clash with Juventus on Wednesday.

The Italian champions suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat at Sampdoria on Sunday while Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 17 matches in all competitions, winning 15.

“We expect the best Juventus, obviously: they are strong rivals and step up a gear in their own stadium with a fiery atmosphere,” Valverde told his pre-match press conference.

“They create many scoring opportunities in every game and need the victory tomorrow, as do we.

“Both sides will try to control the ball and the game as much as possible, as we did in the first leg. We are the team that we are, at times things go better than others, but our idea is to get the result via our football.

“At this moment, the focus is getting through to the next round, then we’ll have other important games to play.

“They have many talented players, Paulo Dybala probably one of the most important, but Miralem Pjanic, Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado can also make a difference. If you focus on defending against one, you just create spaces for the others, so it’s important to defend and work as a unit.

“We respect Juventus, Roma and all of Italian football. I don’t think you can say anyone is the favourite tomorrow, as these are two strong teams playing on level terms and it’ll be down to the details.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde Juventus