Ernesto Valverde: 'Alavés no easy fixture'

Ernesto Valverde: 'Alavés no easy fixture'

Barça manager cites the facts that the Basques won at the Camp Nou last season and played some impressive football against Valencia in the cup as two of many reasons not to feel over-confident on Sunday evening

FC Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde spoke to the media ahead of Sunday’s league clash at home to Alavés. Here’s a round-up of the standout quotes:

On Alavés

"Alavés are in fine form. They were great in the cup against Valencia and Abelardo has breathed new life into the team. They’re much braver and play more attacking football. They’ll be coming here thinking they can win like they did last year.”

"I think their cup performance has boosted their confidence, even though they lost.  And I don’t think the exertions will affect them. I’d prefer to have played a game on Wednesday that went into extra time than a game on Thursday that didn’t.”

On Philippe Coutinho

"Yes, he could get to start, it’s a possibility. But teams need to get used to new players and players to their new teams.”

“He’s a different kind of player to what he had before. I don’t think he’s the same as Iniesta. Andrés is a central midfielder, while Coutinho is more of an attacking midfielder, more of a goalscorer. Rather than a replacement for Iniesta, I’d say he’s more of a complement to him.”

On Yerry Mina

"There’s a chance he could play, like there is for any other player. But I can’t guarantee anything.”

On the league position

“It would be dangerous to think we are so far ahead that we can concentrate on other competitions instead. Things could change at any time.”

"As for our main rival, I always say it’s the team directly behind us, and in our case now that’s Atlético Madrid. But Valencia and Real Madrid are also strong competitors in the long term. We don’t want any of them to cut down our lead."

On Munir, currently on loan to Alavés

"The important thing was for him to get playing time and he’s earning it. He’s become an important part of the Alavés setup. I just hope he doesn’t do what he did last season when he was on loan to Valencia and score two goals against us.”

“We’ll have to keep an eye on him because he’s very dangerous when he gets into space.”

On the Copa del Rey semi-final draw

"We all know what a big team Valencia are. It’ll be hard, just like it was against Espanyol, because they’re having a great season. And they’re at home in the second leg, where they’re always strong, and will be desperate to make it into the final”

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