Barcelona He assessed the Blaugrana’s year
Barcelona didn’t manage to reach the Champions League final last season as they were knocked out in the semi-final by Liverpool, but Ernesto Valverde believes that if the Blaugrana had progressed, they would have gone on to win the Copa del Rey.
The 55-year-old tactician also admitted that the elimination at the hands of Roma one year before psychologically affected his players at Anfield.
“Until Liverpool. we were having an incredible Champions League,” Valverde said in an interview for Barcelona‘s official website.
“At Anfield, we had chances but they scored early on and psychologically we started worrying that what happened in Rome might happen again.
“There was a moment of weakness and we paid for it. It was one of the toughest moments of the year.
“We must admit that the hit we took in Liverpool meant our morale was down going into the Copa [del Rey] final [against Valencia].
“If we’d won against Liverpool, we’d have won the Copa [del Rey] final too.”
Valverde went on to assess Barcelona‘s start in the 2019/20 season before setting the Catalans’ objectives for 2020.
“We didn’t start well, but we’ve gradually been getting better,” he added.
“We’re top of the table [in LaLiga Santander], but there’s still a long way to go.
“This year is tighter than other years. It’s harder to win games.
“Next year, we need to be more on top of certain key moments, and we especially need to be careful not to leak two goals in a matter of minutes.
“[Our target for 2020 is] to win every game.
“You are always going to need a little bit of luck, but we’ll try to get fortune to tip our way and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.”
Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong, Neto and Junior Firpo joined the club in summer and Valverde discussed their progress in the first months of the 2019/20 campaign.
“Antoine Griezmann is not just a goalscorer but also a hard worker,” he noted.
“He knows how to drop into midfield, and he knows the moment in which he has to help the full-back. We are very happy with him.
“Frenkie de Jong covers a lot of ground and he is playing well.
“However, he still has more to give, especially inside the opponents’ box.
“Neto and Junior are performing as expected.
“When Junior has come in for Jordi Alba, he has done well, and he is [getting] more and more involved.
“As for Neto, he is always ready to come in [for Marc-Andre ter Stegen] and he is a very competitive player.”