BARCELONA – FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Saturday that Eibar, its opponent in the upcoming La Liga match, would put his team under tremendous pressure.
At a press conference on the eve of Sunday’s game, Valverde praised Eibar, which holds the 13th spot in the league standings.
“Eibar has a very clear identity marked by their coach (Jose Luis) Mendilibar. They play a very convincing style of soccer and will put on the pressure,” Valverde said.
However, the Barcelona coach stressed that the high pressure could put Eibar in danger of a counterattack, something his team would try to use to its advantage.
Having lost against 2-1 to Levante in the first leg of the Spanish Cup round of 16 when he lined up some of his less regular starters, Valverde plans to field the usual starters in a bid to maintain the squad’s five-point advantage over second-place Atletico Madrid.
Brazilian attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho is expected to start on the bench, having performed below par recently, while French Ousmane Dembele became a regular starter.
However, the Spanish coach downplayed the bad times the Brazilian player has been through.
“Philippe has played great matches with us and hopefully he will continue to do so. He must improve, as we all should, but I focus more on the things he does well,” Valverde said, adding that Coutinho and Dembele can play together.
“They did it at the beginning of the season, for example against Inter in Milan or PSV Eindhoven, and although they have not played together recently, they can do it again,” he added.