Valverde and Pique ask Barca fans to be pa­tient

The National - News - - FOOTBALL SPORT -

Ernesto Valverde says he un­der­stands why some Barcelona sup­port­ers whis­tled his team fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing goal­less draw with Slavia Prague in the Cham­pi­ons League. Barca would have taken a ma­jor step to­wards the knock­out stages of the com­pe­ti­tion with vic­tory at Camp Nou.

But Valverde’s side, who struck the wood­work through Lionel Messi, were un­able to break down the Czech cham­pi­ons in a game which saw both sides have goals dis­al­lowed for off­side. The stale­mate fol­lowed Satur­day’s sur­prise 3-1 loss at Le­vante to in­crease the pres­sure on Valverde.

“It’s okay for peo­ple to de­mand more,” said Valverde af­ter the game. “You al­ways like to win. To­day, the truth is that we have not been right with the clear chances that we have had.

“They, with­out cre­at­ing clear op­por­tu­ni­ties, caused dan­ger when they stole the ball from us be­cause they came out very fast against us. We couldn’t con­vert the dom­i­nance we had into op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Barcelona re­main top of Group F, although Borus­sia Dort­mund re­duced their ad­van­tage to a sin­gle point by com­ing from two goals down to beat In­ter Mi­lan 3-2 in Ger­many. “The other day we lost against Le­vante and we un­der­stand that it wasn’t one of our best games,” Valverde said.

“Nei­ther that one nor to­day’s. We haven’t played two per­fect games and we know that there is a lot of pres­sure to­wards the team and we have to bounce back.”

A frus­trat­ing evening for the Span­ish cham­pi­ons was com­pounded by an in­jury to left­back Jordi Alba, who had to be sub­sti­tuted just af­ter half time.

“Jordi has a ham­string prob­lem and we’ll see what the doc­tors say,” Valverde said.

The match was the first time Barcelona failed to score at home in any com­pe­ti­tion since Fe­bru­ary 2018. Slavia goal­keeper On­drej Ko­lar twice saved from Messi and also re­pelled a pow­er­ful header from Ger­ard Pique.

De­fender Pique called for pa­tience from fans. “I’ve been at Barca for many years and when peo­ple want things to go bet­ter than they are then there’s crit­i­cism,” said the cen­tre-back. “We’ll try and im­prove, but it’s time for a cold-blooded, calm-headed anal­y­sis.”

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