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FC Barcelona are about to get 2018 fully under way with the first game of the year – the Copa del Rey first leg at Celta Vigo. Naturally, that also brings Ernesto Valverde’s first press conference of the year, and here’s a collection of quotes from the first team boss:

On Celta:

"They’re an aggressive team that’ll put us under a lot of pressure. It’ll be a game between two good teams. We have a lot of respect for them because of the trouble they caused us at the Camp Nou in the league and they’ll be battling hard to qualify too.”

“It’s going to be different to the 2-2 draw here because it’s not the same competition and this time there’s another leg afterwards. The fact we’ve already played them makes a difference too because we know how they approached the first game.”

“It’s one of the hardest teams we could have been drawn against because they play well as a team and generate a lot of pressure. The games played in previous season are a reference for us, but less so because they didn’t have the same coach then.”

On Ousmane Dembélé:

“It’s very important for us to recover a player like Ousmane. He has to adapt all over again but we are sure he’s going to be an important player for us. We’ll gradually introduce him to the team, but he needs time to adapt so we’ll take things in our stride.”

On Rafinha:

“The idea is for him to get back into the rhythm of playing matches after being out of action for so long.”

On the importance of the cup:

“Whatever competition you play in, you try to win it. We are excited about the Copa del Rey and will do all we can to win it. With such a big squad, and no matter how tiring it might be, we can still cope with playing in all three major tournaments.”

On El Clásico:

“Winning a game like that was always going to be a boost for our confidence, but now it’s a question of starting all over again.  We need to keep looking ahead.”

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