Ernesto Valverde: 'The Champions League has given us a lot; we have to respect it'

Ernesto Valverde: 'The Champions League has given us a lot; we have to respect it'

The FC Barcelona manager speaks to the media ahead of the final group stage game against Sporting with the blaugranas already guaranteed first place

FC Barcelona have almost finished with the 2017/18 Champions League group stage and they are guaranteed first place in the group and have qualified for the round of 16. Their final group game is against Sporting Clube de Portugal, who need a win at the Camp Nou and for Juventus to drop points for them to qualify for the knockout stages.

Barça have completed their job early and that is good news for the blaugranas. However, Valverde said this will not be used as an excuse: “It is a competition we enjoy and we have to be play well for our fans. The Champions League has given us a lot and we want it to continue doing so, so we have to respect it.”

The coach believes “all games are tests for us and are tough.” He added: “Sporting are a great team. We know about their potential, the fact they take this competition very seriously, and their need for a result to qualify. They will look to beat us and as they need this win to advance from the group stages they will have to be offensive.”

Valverde will have to deal with a large number of injuries in this game, especially at centre-back where Umtiti joins Mascherano on the treatment table. However, the manager is still optimistic: “The situation is what it is and every time a player has come in he has done well. I am confident that those who play will do well as the squad is ready to resolve the problems which come up as we go along.”

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