Ernesto Valverde has described the understanding between Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba as “Barcelona’s life insurance”.
Alba has assisted Messi five times in La Liga – more so than any other Barca player – and their chemistry was evident during the Catalans’ 2-0 win at Villarreal on Sunday.
“It was a crucial and difficult match,” he said after the game.
“We were faced by a great team, on a pitch where it’s difficult to pick up points. They made it a complicated game as we had problems in moving the ball around and they threatened us on the counterattack.
“We knew that our rivals had won, but we’re always more aware of ourselves. Regardless of which of our rivals have won, you have to win, you prepare to win and that’s it. If our rivals have won, there’s more pressure on you and you have to deal with it.
“After drawing at home, we wanted to get back to winning. Alba’s one of our weapons, Villarreal closed us down a lot through the middle, so it was up to our wide players.
“Before that, we had the risk of throwing ourselves too much on them, and in the first half we ran the risk that they’d find space when we lost the ball.
“In the second half, Jordi Alba’s runs were key. He has a very good understanding with Messi and those connections always appear, they’re life-insurance policies for the team.
“Raba’s red card? I haven’t seen the replay, but I get the feeling that the one who protested the least was the player himself.
“I understand he was going to play the ball but lost control. It was a hard tackle and the referee saw it that way.”
Finally, Valverde was asked whether Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola should be punished for wearing yellow ribbons in support of Catalan political prisoners.
“No,” concluded the Coach.