Valverde: Barca are not favourites

Ernesto Valverde has rejected the tag of ‘favourites’ for his Barcelona side ahead of their Champions League quarter final clash with Roma.

The Blaugrana host the Italian side on Wednesday before the return leg in Rome next week, with the tactician believing the tie is well balanced.

“I really hope the Camp Nou fans turn out in huge numbers to back us against Roma and roar us on like they did against Chelsea,” Valverde told his pre-match press conference.

“Being favourites doesn't mean anything as far as I'm concerned. It's not the reality of the game. Everything's up for grabs. We'll have to play extraordinarily to beat them.

“They say we are (favourites), but the truth is that the game is only decided on the pitch and we have a lot of respect for Roma.

“It’s no surprise that they got to the quarter finals because they play very well, they attack and defend well and they’re hard to beat when they’re in form.

“It’s a quarter final like all the others, we face it hoping to go through knowing that we have a 50 per cent chance before the match.

“At this point in the competition I don’t think games can be decided in the first leg, because the opponents are so good.

“We need to adapt and win the game, but a good game won’t be enough: we need two.

“They’re very good at pressing high, we need to try and defend and dominate their game.

“The fact they’re an Italian team definitely gives us guarantees about how competitive they’ll be.

“We want to win the trophy, but so far we’ve done nothing, some things will be decided this month. We already have a final to play [the Copa del Rey] and the aim is to progress in every competition.”

The Barca boss then turned his attention to Lionel Messi, whom he expects to start the tie.

“Messi? If he’s called-up, he’ll play,” Valverde added.

“With respect to the previous days he’s better. Busquets trained for an important part of the session yesterday, and I think he’ll be better today and tomorrow.

“He’s an important player for us, he and Messi are fundamental players.

“Messi is unique in the world. Unique in the history of football.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde Roma