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Ernesto Valverde spoke to FC Barcelona's official media to give an exclusive review of his time in charge to date. The Barça coach talked about everything from his arrival at the club to his thoughts on individual players, in a look back over the first half of the season. We've picked out ten choice cuts from the interview:
Start of the season
“At the start you have to adapt to the team and to the players, but you gradually solve these issues. There is a style that you have to put in place permanently, and the players here are very competitive and winners. This is a team very aware of what they need to do."
“The game at the Bernabéu was a really great one for us, because of the result and because of the feeling it left us with. We ended the year really well, and we've had a good Christmas."
"Any Barça player is a different player. Dembélé's profile was different to anything we had. He is able to play in various positions and is very fast. We have a big squad, we've made good replacements up to now, and now he's coming back. It's great news."
"We have been able to overcome adversity that has come up, and now we have to carry on in the same way. I also think that we've had a lot of key moments in the first half of the season, such as the win against Juventus at the Camp Nou and the fightback against Getafe.”
“Messi is the best player in the entire world. He does something extraordinary with every ball he touches. We have the incredible good fortune to have him at our club. I can see how he faces competition and his enormous commitment to the club and the team. In terms of his position, playing in the middle is good both for him and for us. However, he can play well anywhere."
“The important thing is to create chances -the goals will come. Luis is an aggresive player with his finishing and is always close to scoring. I wasn't worried when he wasn't scoring as much, because it was a question of time before he found the net again. Also, we have players who are abe to score, and its important that there are so many players who score goals."
“Our intention is always to win, and to go for the game from the start. We can't speculate about the gap we have between us and our rivals in LaLiga; we have to focus on ourselves and on winning every game. For our rivals, seeing that we don't slip up is what wears them down the most. Now we're looking ahead and we have LaLiga and the Copa del Rey to come. We have a very intense January awaiting us."
“Our rivals know us better now. They press high, they make it one-on-one all around the pitch, and you have to find an answer. There is evolution in our play, but also in that of our rivals, and we have to adapt."
Paulinho and Iniesta
“Paulinho has a different style. He gets into the opposition box and ishighly effective. He has faith, he keeps up with play and he scores goals. We try to have a balance: When we attack, we all attack -and when we defend, we all defend. That's what Paulinho does well. As for Iniesta, he's at ease and looks after himself. He knows when he is at his best. He's a very important player who never loses the ball, and who gives you more passes than anybody. He's unique."
Barça B players
"The Segunda División is a tough league for a second team. I try to follow and watch Barça B whenever I can. We look at players who could be good for the first team, such as Aleñá, Oriol Busquets and Arnaiz, among others."
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