Ernesto Valverde says Barcelona’s 4-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna has given them ‘confidence’ for the Clasico and admits Antoine Griezmann is “a great player”.
Speaking after Barca’s big win, Valverde also warned the Catalans were “a world away” from regaining their Liga crown, despite their six-point lead at the top, and branded the League ‘absurd’ after his side scored their third 'ghost goal' of 2017.
“The League isn’t over,” began the Coach.
“Atletico are six points behind and Valencia, after losing, are only a bit further away. There’s still a long way to go and no-one wins a League this early.
“Clasico? It’s always good to play a game against opponents who are behind you [in the table]. It means we’re in a good situation, while they haven’t played this week.
“Still, nothing has been decided and regardless of what happens, we’re still a world away from winning the League.
“We go into it feeling happy, but there’s still a week to go. The best thing for us is to win and be confident and high-spirited.
“We’re fine. We know it’ll be complicated and that we’ll be facing a huge team, but we want to face them and prepare well. We want to have a good game.
“Alcacer’s injury? It was an unexpected setback and we’ll see what the doctors tell us. It was a good performance in general, but the thing that hurt us was Paco’s injury, in a match where he could’ve been prominent. It disrupts our plans because we’ve lost a player.
“We found it tough at the beginning, although we had a couple of chances, but once you open the game and consequently your opponents, it becomes much easier.
“Then came the chances and goals, and we also had chances to score more goals. We were serious in all aspects of our approach. It was important to arrive for our next game confidently.
“Hitting the woodwork so often? It’s true that we are, but luckily we have turned enough of our chances into goals. It’s a sign that we’re always close to scoring.
“Paulinho? He relates well with the opponents’ goal. He’s good at running into opposing boxes, joins in with our play and always tries to reach our opponents’ goal.
“All the rebounds seem to fall his way, but it’s a sign that he joins in and is rewarded for his efforts.
“Iniesta? I’m very lucky to be able to count on him, just like I can with Messi, Suarez or Aleix Vidal.
“He can play well anywhere. He hides the ball from his opponents and doesn’t lose it in situations where it seems that anyone else can.
“Rakitic? He did very well. Busquets gives us many things, but when he’s not playing, we have other options and Rakitic has shown to be one of them, although it shows when Busquets doesn’t play because he’s a great player.
“Griezmann? He’s a great player who’s not in our team, I like the players I already have. Clasico at midday on Saturday? It’s an unusual day, the day before Christmas Eve, but I don’t know… I think the schedule’s fine.
“Suarez’s ghost goal? I didn’t see it, but with the help of technology, you’ll know if the ball has gone in or not, regardless of whether the VAR is used or not.
“I don’t know why it is not used in La Liga. The equipment must be very expensive, but it’s absurd that we don’t have it. We’re late and it shows.”