“FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are two strong teams who are fighting for the title. The three points are highly valuable, because it's a game between teams in first and second place."
That was Ernesto Valverde's definition of what will be a crucial game for FC Barcelona's title aspirations, given in his pre-match press conference on Saturday. The two sides are separated by 5 points in the table, and a Barça win would bring the gap back to a more comfortable advantage.
“We have the intention of leaving Atletico Madrid 8 points behind us. That would be a big leap up in the standings. Now the games are being counted down, not added up."
Asked about the opposition's defensive capabilities as the side with the fewest goals conceded in LaLiga this season, the coach commented that: "The defend very well, both at the back and when they press high. They are very dangerous on the counter as well, as they use space very well. They have great passers of the ball, such as Koke, and we will have to watch out for these situations.
"We will compete at a high level, just as we have done against other strong opponents this season. I have the feeling that the team will respond," he assured.
“We will need to go all-out if we are going to win the match. I'm sure that the fans at the Camp Nou will cheer us on. We need their support, both in the good times and the bad during the game."