Tuesday November 21 2017
Valverde: 'No Juve-Barca favourites'

Barcelona Coach Ernesto Valverde promised “a different game” against Juventus after last season’s 3-0 defeat, but sees “no favourites.”

It kicks off on Wednesday at 19.45 GMT at the Allianz Juventus Stadium in Turin.

“We expect the best Juventus, obviously. They are strong rivals and step up a gear in their own stadium with a fiery atmosphere.

“They create many scoring opportunities in every game and need the victory tomorrow, as do we,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“Both sides will try to control the ball and the game as much as possible, as we did in the first leg. We are the team that we are, at times things go better than others, but our idea is to get the result via our football.

“At this moment, the focus is getting through to the next round, then we’ll have other important games to play.”

Juve lost 3-2 to Sampdoria at the weekend, and were 3-0 down until the final minutes, but Valverde isn’t taking anything for granted.

“When such a big team loses a game, they want to immediately make up for it, so I expect a strong reaction from Juventus.

“They have many talented players, Paulo Dybala probably one of the most important, but Miralem Pjanic, Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado can also make a difference. If you focus on defending against one, you just create spaces for the others, so it’s important to defend and work as a unit.

“We try to get results via good football and be solid, but when you can’t do that, it’s important to be organised and have harmony. Some performances have been better than others, but that happens to many teams. You can’t be at your best every day.”

Juventus lost 3-0 away to Barcelona this season and Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup, while Juve also lost Champions League Finals to Barça and Real Madrid, so is there a gap between Italian and Spanish football?

“I know there is a lot of talk about this, but I don’t think you can tie it in with the two lost Champions League Finals, because Juventus got to those two Finals and that is a success.

“Obviously, Italy not going to the World Cup makes a big splash all over the world and is a huge surprise. At times like this, you have the desire to change everything, but sometimes you need much smaller adjustments.

“We respect Juventus, Roma and all of Italian football. I don’t think you can say anyone is the favourite tomorrow, as these are two strong teams playing on level terms and it’ll be down to the details.”

Last season in the Champions League semi-final, Juventus beat Barcelona 3-0 here and went through to the Final.

“I watched that first leg over and over again to prepare. That was a knockout round and the circumstances are different now, but we do know Juve start very strong and we must be ready for that initial assault.

“Juve were in great shape last season and won, but it’ll be a very different game tomorrow and they are certainly motivated to make up for their defeat at Camp Nou.”
Valverde was asked if he would remove any players from the Juventus squad tomorrow.

“More than fear, I feel respect for Juventus. If you remove Dybala, they’ve got less creativity, but then you have Gonzalo Higuain for the finishing, Gigi Buffon in goal, others in defence and Miralem Pjanic in midfield, so I’d gladly remove five or six players from them, not just one.”

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