Virtual Football League
www.safaribet.com.gh
Football is always in action. Now you can bet on Virtual Football League
Virtual Horse Classics
www.safaribet.com.gh
Bet on a virtual horse classics. Choose your favorite and win!

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde 'will accept any opponent' in Champions League Featured

Written by 
Published in Spain Primera Division
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 12:31

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says his side are prepared to take on anyone in the last 16 of the Champions League after signing off from the group stages with a 2-0 home win over Sporting Lisbon.

With the La Liga leaders already qualified at the top of Group D and a testing trip to Villarreal ahead on Sunday, Valverde made the expected sweeping changes to the starting XI as talisman Lionel Messi was among the substitutes.
Barcelona finally broke the deadlock just before the hour mark when Paco Alcacer headed in from a corner.

Former Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu netted an own goal in stoppage time, which left Sporting having to be content with a Europa League spot after finishing behind Juventus.

The Spaniards, meanwhile, will be among the top seeds for the knockout stages, but could yet find themselves paired against the likes of Bayern Munich or Chelsea, who both finished second in their respective qualifying groups.

Valverde, though, will take things one step at a time.

"We don't know what could happen in the draw. We will accept any opponent," Valverde said in quotes reported by Marca.
Valverde felt his Barcelona side, which showed some eight changes to the starting XI which drew 2-2 with Celta Vigo, had produced the required result, if not perhaps the flowing performance.

"Our plan is to dominate matches and to create chances, at the same time as making sure they don't create chances against us," he said.

"We try to do things as well as we can. Sometimes we play wonderfully and sometimes less so."

Despite not being able to pull off a shock win which could have kept alive hopes of sneaking into the knockout stages ahead of Juventus, Sporting coach Jorge Jesus believes his side can head into the Europa League with confidence.

"We are leaving the Champions League feeling proud. It was a spectacular tournament for us that ended with one more game against Barcelona," he said at a press conference, quoted on www.uefa.com.

"We are going to the Europa League with the aim of doing well in that tournament. The Europa League has some very string teams and Sporting is one of them."

Read 25 times

Related items

  • Lionel Messi's Barcelona contract: €100m bonus, €70m a year and exclusive image rights

    The extraordinary details behind Lionel Messi's new Barcelona contract have been revealed by Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

    Messi signed a new contract with the Catalan club in November after months of speculation over his long-term future.
    El Mundo have reported that the delay to his new contract was not purely because of the financial negotiations, but because of the political crisis in Catalonia over their recent independence vote.

    However, the sums involved in his deal are staggering, if as claimed. The contract runs until 2021, with the option of another year for Barcelona.

    After Messi's conviction for tax fraud, he has apparently been handed a signing-on sum of €100m (£88.5m) as compensation for his troubles.
    Beyond that, he will earn €70m a year in wages, around £1.2m a week, and he has been granted exclusive image rights.

    The total cost of the deal comes to €450m, and will earn Messi €3,995 an hour, which works out as almost €100,000 a day after tax.

    The figures represent a deal that is 70% more lucrative that Cristiano Ronaldo's current deal with Real Madrid, and only €4m a year worse than Neymar, who joined Paris Saint-Germain this summer.
    Other sporting figures have also been left behind. Steph Curry earns €40.5m a year, and Fernando Alonso €37.7m. The only other footballer to come close to his salary is Carlos Tevez, whose deal in China is worth €64m each year.

  • Barcelona stumble as Celta claim Camp Nou draw

    Premier League, Camp Nou - Barcelona 2 (Messi 22, L Suarez 62) Celta Vigo 2 (Aspas 20, Gomez 70)

    Barcelona missed the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of La Liga as they stumbled to a 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo.
    Iago Aspas opened the scoring for Celta just before the midpoint of the first half, but Barca were level within two minutes through Leo Messi.

    Luis Suarez finished a smart move just after the hour mark to put the hosts in front, but Celta hit back with a precise finish from Maxi Gomez.

    Messi missed a good headed chance to win the game for Barca, then fired a free-kick over with the last kick of the game; at the other end Pione Sisto brought an excellent save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

    It was the first home game Barcelona have failed to win this season, and their second draw in a row.

    Second-placed Valencia can reduce the margin at the top to two points on Sunday, while Real Madrid will try to close the gap behind Barca to six points later on Saturday.
    TALKING POINT

    Have Barca lost momentum? Consecutive draws with form teams Valencia and Celta is far from a disaster, but it does suggest Ernesto Valverde’s side have lost some momentum after five straight wins in La Liga. Had Messi’s ghost goal at Valencia counted in the 1-1 draw, Barcelona would have been eight points clear at the top of the league before the match with Celta even kicked off. Now, if Valencia win at 12th-placed Getafe, which they should, their lead will only be a narrow two points.

    MAN OF THE MATCH

    Iago Aspas (Celta): The 30-year-old simply loves playing against Barcelona; he has now scored four goals in his last four league appearances against the Catalonians. The forward easily broke the home side’s offside trap for the opener as he latched onto a through ball to set up Maxi Gomez whose shot was saved, but Aspas was in the right place to tap in from the rebound. Aspas was then at the centre of the equaliser as he raced clear of Samuel Umtiti – who pulled his hamstring giving chase – before beating Jordi Alba and setting up Gomez on a plate.
    PLAYER RATINGS

    Barcelona: Ter Stegen 7, Pique 6, Alba 6, Roberto 6, Umtiti 6, Rakitic 7, Busquets 7, Iniesta 7, Paulinho 7, Luis Suarez 6, Messi 8. Subs: Vermaelen 6, Dennis Suarez 7, , Alcacer 5.

    Celta Vigo: Blanco 7, Mallo 7, Fontas 6, Gomez N/A, Sisto 8, Lobotka 6, Sanchez 6, Wass 7, Mendez 6, Gomez 7, Aspas 9. Subs: Cabral 6, Roncaglia 6, Hernandez N/A.

    KEY MOMENTS

    20’ - GOAL! Barcelona 0-1 Celta. The visitors are ahead after a terrific move on the counter-attack! Wass releases Aspas after Pique steps up to try to play the offside trap, but the referee's flag stays down. Aspas unselfishly squares the ball to Gomez whose shot is brilliantly saved by Ter Stegen, but it falls into the path of Aspas who heads in from the rebound.

    22’ - GOAL! Barcelona 1-1 Celta. Their lead doesn't last long, not even two minutes in fact! Suarez and Paulinho combine, with the latter finding Messi unmarked in the penalty box and the Argentine slides the ball past Blanco.

    30’ - POST! Quick and incisive football from the hosts, but still no breakthrough. Suarez controls a lovely ball comfortably at the back post but his venomous shot is parried by Blanco. The loose ball is taken up by Messi who smashes the outside of the post from a tight angle.

    48’ - MISS! Paulinho is through one-on-one with Blanco and he rounds the goalkeeper! However, with an empty net to aim for he can only find the side-netting. It was a tight angle to be fair, though he still should have scored.

    62’ - GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Celta. The hosts take the lead with a sublime move! Messi slides through Alba who cuts the ball back for Luis Suarez and he is left with a simple tap-in.

    70’ – GOAL! Barcelona 2-2 Celta. Aspas races past Umtiti on the flank who appears to pull up with a hamstring injury. He is left one-on-one with Alba and he also goes by him easily, before finding Maxi Gomez who slides the ball into the net.

    85’ - SO CLOSE! Suarez tees up Denis Suarez for a shot which is deflected into the path of Messi who uses all his neck muscles to direct a header on goal, but it drifts inches wide of the post.

    90+5 - LAST KICK! Messi has a chance to snatch the points with an inviting free-kick 26m out... his effort hits the wall and goes behind for a corner - but the ref blows for full-time!
    KEY STATS

    Lionel Messi has scored four goals and assisted four in his last three appearances against Celta at Camp Nou.
    Including the three previous La Liga seasons, Celta de Vigo have scored 12 goals against Barcelona, more than any other team.
    Jordi Alba has assisted 11 Luis Suárez goals for FC Barcelona in all competitions.

  • Barcelona earn late draw against Valencia as 'ghost goal' not given

    La Liga, Mestalla - Valencia 1 (Rodrigo 59') Barcelona 1 (Alba 82')

    Jordi Alba scored a stunning equaliser against Valencia to salvage a 1-1 draw for Barcelona in a match best remembered for a Lionel Messi ‘ghost goal.’
    The Argentine looked to have given the visitors to the Mestalla a first half lead, with goalkeeper Neto allowing a shot to squirm through his legs over the line. But the officials failed to spot it, despite the protestations of the Barcelona players.
    Valencia emerged reinvigorated for the second half and took the lead after an hour, with Rodrigo finishing from close range after good work from Jose Luis Gaya at the byline. It was a goal that could have drawn Marcelino’s side to within a point of Barca at the top of La Liga.

    But Alba denied Valencia all three points, getting on the end of a wonderful Messi pass to send a volley on the stretch into the far side of the net. The goal ensured that Barcelona stayed four points clear at the top of the Liga table.
    TALKING POINT - When will Spanish football catch up with the rest of the world?

    While the rest of the world is now debating the benefits of VAR, La Liga is still talking about implementing goalline technology. The same technology that every other major league in Europe has and has had for years.

    Spanish football has been left behind in the technology stakes, and that was exposed by the ‘ghost goal’ scored by Messi. Everyone in the stadium saw it, but not the officials. So why are they still being denied help?

    MAN OF THE MATCH - Rodrigo (Valencia)

    His goal looked like being a turning point, not just in the match, but in the 2017/18 La Liga season. Rodrigo came to life in the second half of this match, scoring the opener and causing Barcelona problems.

    Ultimately, he was denied the accolade of being the match winner, but his contribution still underlined how Valencia have the attacking quality to compete at the top of the table.
    PLAYER RATINGS

    Valencia - Neto 7, Montoya 6, Gabriel 6, Garay 6, Gaya 7, Soler 5, Parejo 6, Kondogbia 8, Guedes 7, Rodrigo 8, Zaza 6. Subs - Vezo 5, Mina 5, Pereira 5.

    Barcelona - Ter Stegen 7, Alba 7, Vermaelen 6, Umtiti 7, Semedo 5, Busquets 6, Iniesta 5, Rakitic 5, Paulinho 6, Messi 7, Suarez 5. Subs - Denis 5, Vidal 5, Deulofeu 6.

    KEY MOMENTS

    30’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOAA... NO! Messi's shot is fumbled by Neto and crosses the line! Everyone saw it, besides the referee and the linesman. Play continues! Barcelona are livid!

    60’ GOAL! Valencia 1-0 Barcelona: A massive goal in this season's Liga title race! Guedes released Gaya down the left wing, who got to the byline before squaring to Rodrigo to finish from close range. Massive goal!

    64’ PENALTY SHOUT! Could that have been a spot kick to Valencia? Umtiti swung a leg and brought down Guedes inside the area, but the referee (who isn't having a good night) shakes his head.

    83’ GOAL! Valencia 1-1 Barcelona: Barcelona have equalised! Messi picks out a wonderful pass to Alba at the back post, who does brilliantly to meet it on the volley and send the ball into the far corner of the net. Wow!

    KEY STATS

    Lionel Messi has had a hand in 27 of Barcelona’s last 34 goals against Valencia in La Liga.

    Jordi Alba has been directly involved in more goals than any other defender in La Liga this season (five).

  • Lionel Messi signs new Barcelona contract

    Lionel Messi has ended months of speculation over his future by signing a new contract to the end of the 2020/21 season to remain at Barcelona.

    Messi's new contract has a buyout release clause of 700 million euros.
    The Argentine international has spent 14 seasons with the first team, and at the end of the current contract he will have spent 17 years with Barcelona.

    Messi made his debut for Barcelona aged just 17 against Espanyol, in October 2004.
    The 30-year-old striker had been regulalry linked with moves away this season, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain mentioned as possible destinations.

    With Barcelona, Messi has won eight La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, five Copas del Rey, seven Spanish Super Cups, three European Super Cups and three Club World Cups.

    He has won the Ballon d'Or five times, and has won the Pichichi and Golden Boot four times each. Messi is La Liga and Barcelona's all-time top scorer with 523 goals in 602 appearances.

  • Diego Simeone insists Barcelona are still not as good as Real Madrid

    Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone insists LaLiga leaders Barcelona are still not as good as Real Madrid.

    Barcelona visit Atletico's new Wanda Metropolitano home for the first time on Saturday night with a five-point lead over second-placed Sevilla.

    Ernesto Valverde's table-toppers have opened their campaign with seven straight wins.

    Barcelona are six points clear of fourth-placed Atletico and seven ahead of champions Real, who have made a stuttering start to the season.

    But Atletico boss Simeone told a pre-match press conference: "Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world, but Real Madrid are better now.
    "(Barca) Have reinvented themselves after the departure of Neymar. They do not stop wanting to win. They have a winning gene, they do not get tired."

    Atletico have not beaten Barcelona in 14 league games - a run stretching back to February 2010.

    Simeone has lost eight of his 11 league games since his appointment in December 2011, but he insists Atletico have always done themselves justice in the fixture.

    "We have not beaten Barcelona in the league, but we've always played well against them," Simeone said.
    "We tied the most important one, that was the one that gave us LaLiga (in 2013-14) and we have knocked them out twice in the Champions League. They did not beat us by chance, they are very good. But we have been more forceful in the Champions League and let's hope we can end that run in LaLiga."

    Barcelona are averaging over three goals a game in LaLiga this season and Lionel Messi has tormented Atletico down the years.

    Messi has scored 27 goals in 34 games against the Rojiblancos and fired Argentina into the World Cup finals in midweek with a hat-trick in Ecuador.

    Fellow Argentinian Simeone said: "I watched the Argentina match. Messi had that night that all Argentines wanted and asked for. For some who did not believe in him, he proved that he is the best in the world."

    Atletico defenders Filipe Luis and Lucas Hernandez missed the goalless draw at Leganes before the international break, but both players have recovered from their hamstring injuries and are available.

    Barca pair Andries Iniesta and Luis Suarez are fit after niggles and boss Valverde told reporters: "We know how important the game is.

    "Atletico are candidates for the league title, they are tough to break down and score against. They defend as a unit and are disciplined. It is a big game and the Wanda Metropolitano will have a spectacular atmosphere."

Leave a comment

Football

African Football

Football Transfers

Djilibodji is loaned to Dijon

Djilibodji is loaned to Dijon

French side Dijon have completed the signing of defender Papy Djilibodji on loan from Sunderland. T...

Virtual Football League
www.safaribet.com.gh
Football is always in action. Now you can bet on Virtual Football League

Sponsored Links

Virtual Football League
www.safaribet.com.gh
Football is always in action. Now you can bet on Virtual Football League

Like Us On Facebook

Formula 1

    Tennis

    Connect With Us

    Contact Us

    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Our Sponsors

    JoomShaper