Barcelona Playing Against Chelsea Is Unfortunate; We Would Have Loved To Avoid Them – Ernesto Valverde
Ahead of the tonight champions League tie between Chelsea and Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona manager has admitted he never wanted to play against the Premier League defending champions, in the Champions League last 16.
The Camp Nou boss and former Athletic Bilbao coach said the superb form shown by Premier League defending champions in the competition this season is enough for him as a person to be afraid of playing against Conte’s men.
In the group stage, Conte’s men came second behind group winners, Roma who edge the English side on a head-to-head rule while Barcelona finished three points ahead of Juventus to win Group D, and made no secret of the fact he would have preferred the standings to be reversed.
“We wish Chelsea had finished first in their group so we didn’t have to play them,” Valverde said.
“They’re the Premier League champions, a very strong team there on merit. English teams this year are in incredible form, much better than in previous years.
“Chelsea might be the same. We know that, because the English have such a strong league, they’ll all be up there competing.”
The Barcelona gaffer said Chelsea pose a bigger threat but maintains that their style of play is not strange.
“Chelsea have a unique style of football and know their own game. The English style of football is very unique, very physical, but they play good football as well.
“It’s different playing Chelsea because of their formation, but Girona plays with a similar system in La Liga so we’ve played against it before.”
The former Barcelona player applauded the Italian and Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte for his incredible tactics. He added that his team (Barcelona) will have to do much to break into their opponent defence and also cope with their counter-attacking style.
“He’s one of the best managers in the world with a great record. You can see the quality of his coaching in the teams he coaches.
“He’s got the classic Italian methods: very strong defensively and can counter at any moment. It’s very clearly a team run by him.”
Valverde also made reference to past encounters between his team and the reigning premier league champions, that the rivalry will shape the contest.
“Of course, previous games do count.
“You have to look at them, though they have little to do with what will happen in reality.
“The key players change from time to time Messi and Iniesta are still there, obviously.
“There’s a bit of rivalry between the teams, which is a good thing. It makes it more of a spectacle, more interesting.”
Meanwhile, with the current form of the La Liga leaders, a victory at Stamford Bridge today Tuesday, February 20, would boost their chances going into the second leg.
Barcelona’s last victory against Chelsea was in 2006.
In a previous report, Nigeria News reported that Chelsea striker, Morata tells teammates they can not stop Barcelona talisman, Messi in the champions league tie at Stamford Bridge.