Valverde: Attack best form of defence

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde claims “if you attack well, you defend well” ahead of facing Espanyol for the third time in two weeks.

Valverde’s Barca have been more renowned for their solid defence than prolific attack, and the Liga leaders will move 21 points clear of Real Madrid if they beat Catalan rivals Espanyol on Sunday.

“We’re in the midst of a Copa semi-final, approaching the Champions League and at a point in the League, when picking up points is tough. We have to keep going,” he said at a Press conference.

“We’ve seen it at Madrid and in other scenarios, when there’s a lot of tension. There’s been a lot of talk, but we’re calmer than all this.

“After our two Copa matches against them, there won’t be many surprises. They’re a team that have options, but they won’t be that different to what they showed before.

“They’ll play with enthusiasm and try to repeat their win the Copa. I don’t know how, but they’ll try.

“They’ll try to repeat the Copa result, but we’ll try to surprise them ourselves. We’re at a key juncture and we have to keep going.

“Lead at the top? I don’t want to take too much comfort from it because it’d be wrong.

“Thinking that leads to mistakes. There’s still a lot of League left and plenty of points up for grabs.

“I'm not worried about [the rivalry] spilling on to the pitch. As Coach, I try to make everything flow smoothly.

“It absolutely will be a tough game, also in terms of it being a derby. We have to play with determination, especially at the start.

“We need to make our presence felt on the pitch, showing we want to win. They have some very physical players and they’ll push us, but we’re prepared.

“I don’t expect a dirty or aggressive match, but a game with tension. Copa semi-final? We have enough days before that game. I’m more influenced by where come from.

“The problem is what we bring back from our games. Attack or defence the priority? if you attack well, you defend well.

“You must be patient. If you lose patience, what happened to us against Alaves [a narrow 2-1 win] can happen again.

“Yerry Mina? He’s fit and been called up. He could play on Sunday or in another game. The Coach decides, and until now I’ve decided that others should play.

“He’s available and a period of adaptation has passed for him, but now isn’t like preseason. There are lots of games and a lot of demand.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde