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Ernesto Valverde has given an exclusive interview to BARÇA MAGAZINE as he goes into his second season in charge of the FC Barcelona first team.
He not only discusses his own players and his plans for the new campaign, but also fields questions on the World Cup in Russia, the introduction of VAR and Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure for Italy.
Here are some of the highlights – and by the wonders of modern technology, you can also listen to the man himself by clicking on the video above.
“I’d like to keep the same team spirit that we had last season. It’s not always easy to do that throughout a whole season, especially in a team like ours that always plays to attack.”
“Opponents generally haven’t stopped us playing in matches and that’s essential if you want to maintain your consistency and end up as champions. I think we have to keep that. We made a huge effort to always stick together, both in attack and defence.”
“We had a horrible day against Roma and we have to be careful in those one-off situations. In competitions like those, the Champions League or the World Cup, it can all come down to a single mistake on a single day. You have to be especially focused.”
“There was a year when Barça won everything and another when the team won five out of six possible trophies, so the club always wants to win the lot. But you can’t always win the lot, it’s very difficult. The best way to do that is by being the best from the first day to the last, but that only guarantees you the league. Because a Champions League or a World Cup can be lost in a bad ten minutes.”
“Barça always has to look to its academy. A lot of people say we should simply take youth players, put them in the first team and everything will work out. But it’s not always that simple. Because there are implicit demands and a lot of competition for places in the first team. However, it’s something that should be encouraged because players from the academy have things that outsiders don’t have.”
“It all depends on them more than anyone else, although it might also depend on whether or not the coach gives them another chance. I hope young players can come through from the youth system and go out and steal the show, score loads of goals and stop our opponents scoring, because that’s what guarantees that the club and the team have an identity.”
“There are good players in Barça B, with a lot of ambition, and I’m very excited about what I see.”
MESSI AND RONALDO
“Ronaldo leading would seem to have ended the competition between Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo because people rarely mention one without mentioning the other. A lot of people are interested, me too, to see how it will affect Real Madrid’s football and what they might do in the transfer market, and also knowing that Ronaldo is at another club and what that might mean for La Liga and the Champions League too.”
THE WORLD CUP
“Victories have knock-on effects and when one team wins people question the others. There were teams like France that were strong in the area, with solid defences and good attacks, and other teams that may have scored high in possession but failed to progress, such as Spain. It’s something to think about.”
HERE COMES VAR
“The feeling is that Video Assistant Referees and technology are here to help us, especially for justice in the penalty area. But we don’t know what knock-on effects it might have.”
“I wouldn’t want VAR to interrupt the flow of games. The great thing about football is that it’s so fast, there are so few interruptions. The referees certainly need help but this shouldn’t be to the detriment of the speed of the game.”
“I know everyone is hanging on what happens in the area, but in the World Cup Final, France scored from a free kick that wasn’t and that decided the game. So what’s more important? I don’t know, because I am also waiting to see how it all works out.”
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