Ernesto Valverde: ‘Barcelona not weakened in title race’

Barcelona Coach Ernesto Valverde does not believe his side are in a weaker position to retain their La Liga title despite two consecutive draws.

The Catalan giants have drawn back-to-back games against Valencia and Athletic Club but have increased their lead at the top from five points over second-placed Atletico Madrid to six over Real Madrid, who have leapfrogged their city rivals.

“We began the matchday six points clear and we end it in the same position,” Valverde told reporters, as cited by Marca.

“That means, if my maths is accurate, we are still in a very strong position but of course we know we must keep winning games from now until the end of the season.

“In the first half we did not have clarity nor rhythm and they pressed us high up the pitch but in the second half I believe we improved.

“I do not want to put this down to our fixture schedule, all teams have this if you want to be challenging for every trophy, so I do not believe it is an issue.

“Lionel Messi? He played because he is at 100% fitness, he was completely ready to play.

“Rotations? Barcelona are not about one or two players, we need everyone to be with our team and I never talk about individuals in a negative way, everyone is here to help.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde