Barcelona v Valencia: Ernesto Valverde defends Champions League exit as Barca push for La Liga record

Ernesto Valverde has won 36 and lost only four of his 51 games in charge at the Nou Camp

Ernesto Valverde has won 36 and lost only four of his 51 games in charge at the Nou Camp

Ernesto Valverde defended his Barcelona side’s Champions League exit as they push for the La Liga unbeaten record against Valencia on Saturday.

The Catalan giants were dumped out of Europe with a shock 3-0 defeat to Roma on Tuesday night, losing on away goals after winning the home leg of their tie 4-1 last week.

But domestically, Barcelona could still do a league and cup double, and are on a 38-game unbeaten streak in La Liga, matching the all-time record set by Real Sociedad in 1980.

Given they could break the record against Valencia, Valverde was determined to accentuate the positives with the La Liga title potentially two games away.

Barca triumphed 3-0 over two legs against Valencia in the Copa Del Rey semi-finals in February
Barca triumphed 3-0 over two legs against Valencia in the Copa Del Rey semi-finals in February

“I’m fine and this is not the worst moment of my career, for sure,” Marca quoted him as saying.

“It’s obviously a bad moment, I’m not going to deny it, we’re all here to win games and when we lose we have to get together.

“I knew what it would be like when I signed a contract with the club. You have to stay strong when the defeats come. This does not surprise me, I knew it. It has happened to everyone and it happens to me.

“It’s been a long time since we had a defeat. We had one against Espanyol in January, but we turned that tie around. When you sign a contract with a club like Barca, that’s what you have to cope with.

Kostas Manolas' late header shocked Barca and dumped the out of the Champions League
Kostas Manolas’ late header shocked Barca and dumped the out of the Champions League

“You have to show your face when you’ve lost games. I knew that when I came into the job. It hasn’t surprised me. It happened to other coaches before me and it’s going to happen to me again.”

Valencia will fancy their chances of an upset at the Nou Camp despite Barca’s exceptional form. They have won five in a row themselves and are unbeaten in their last nine, a run which has taken them ahead of Real Madrid and into third in La Liga.

But Barca have won both the last two games between the pair, winning both legs of their Copa Del Rey semi-final, although the two did draw 1-1 at the Mestalla in the return game of the league fixture back in November.

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