Ernesto Valverde insists ‘it’s still too early’ to discuss the possibility of Barcelona’s January fixture against Girona being played in the US.
Lopetegui argued the idea ‘corrupted the equality of the competition’ as ‘all teams should play at the same grounds’, and Valverde was asked about the remarks made by his rival in the Real Madrid dugout.
“Considering it’s been talked about for 2-3 weeks, it’ll be incredible if we keep talking about it at this rate,” said the Coach at a Press conference for Saturday’s match at Real Sociedad in La Liga.
“We’ll see how it goes, but it’s still very far away. It’s very good that we’re making a big deal out of it, but there’s still a long way to go.
“Every day a new piece of news comes out, but I have the impression that it’s not been decided yet.
“Once we have clarity, we’ll make the relevant judgments. I know that it’s been talked about with the players, but I’ll say again: it’s still far away.
“There’s a certain intention, but we’ll see how it ends. I have the impression that it’ll go on for longer.”
Barca’s trip to Anoeta kicks off a run of seven games in 23 days, and Valverde spoke of his relief that Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi stayed back during the international break.
“Of course I have to consider the break because we have a game in three days’ time, there are players who did a lot of travelling and some played two games,” added the Basque.
“It’s clear that there will be rotations. We’re aware that Pique, Alba and Messi didn’t travel. We won’t deny it because they’ve had more rest and therefore have avoided that wear and tear. In that sense, we’re better off.
“We always hope for the best, but regardless of whether we have a game in the week or not, we knew and know that the games away from home, like the one at Anoeta, are difficult.
“Therefore, if our players are fresher, recovered and have more rest then obviously it’s better for everyone.
“It’s clear that we’ll need all our players, not just the XI. We’ll have to rotate our squad to avoid injuries and be fresh enough.
“It’s too early to take stock of La Real, especially as they’ve played all three of their games away from home. You always want to have greater perspective.
“History tells us that it’s a difficult match for us, given the results we’ve had at Anoeta in recent years. We broke the curse last year, but it took a lot out of us.
“We need to start well because we know how our opponents play against us. We know how motivated they’ll be and the level of pressure they’ll put us under.
“Also, now that there’s no athletic track, the fans are going to be even more vocal. Therefore, starting strongly is important.”
Barca squad for La Real: Ter Stegen, Cillessen; Semedo, Pique, Rakitic, Busquets, Coutinho, Suarez, Messi, Dembele, Rafinha, Lenglet, Alba, Munir, Sergi Roberto, Arturo Vidal, Umtiti, Vermaelen