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Just over 24 hours out from FC Barcelona's game against Athletic Club (Sunday, 4:15pm CET), coach Ernesto Valverde previewed the LaLiga Matchday 29 contest in a press conference. He also fielded questions about his squad for the match, and the Champions League draw that has pitted Barça against AS Roma.
"This will be a special game for me. They are opposition who grow amidst difficulty. They are dangerous, because they have great spirit, and they are tough to play against whatever form they are in. There are an important three points at stake; we're in the final countdown in the season, we have the international break and then there's a tough April coming up. Practically our entire season is at stake now, and we have to start the final ten games with a win."
Absences and rotations
"Thomas (Vermaelen) gave us a scare -it was a heavy collision with Cuenca. The results of the tests have calmed us down. Semedo, Denis and Busquets will be back with us after the international break. We're down to the bare bones, but we are convinced that we can have a good game tomorrow.
"We've played games without Busquets, and we have other players who can help out, like Rakitic. We have sufficient alternatives, although Busquets is the best in the world in his position and it's hard to replace him."
Being drawn against Roma in the Champions League
"At this stage of the Champions League, every side is dangerous. We didn't want to play against Real Madrid, because we're too used to them. You never know what is going to happen. Remember that Roma beat Chelsea 3-0, and they also placed ahead of Atletico Madrid in the group stage. They have a lot of potential."
Iniesta and Aleña
"Iniesta's future depends on him. I'm not thinking about next year right now. You have to focus on what's in front of you. It's going to be strange for everyone to see Barça without Andrés."
"Iniesta is a unique, incomparable player. But Carles Aleñá has a great future ahead of him at this club."
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