?Ernesto Valverde appeared to compare himself to Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff in an attempt to defend the club’s recent performance against Slavia Praha – where they covered less ground than any other side in the Champions League.
Barcelona walked away from the Sinobo Stadium with three points thanks to an own goal by Peter Olayinka, but the reigning La Liga champions faced heavy criticism for their performance, including from goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
Valverde hit back at the recent criticism ahead of their match against Real Valladolid, even appearing to compare himself to Barcelona legend Cruyff, who is widely considered as one of the great pioneers of modern management.
“We are a team that normally has the possession and sometimes that conditions your efforts in terms of metres covered. We take other physical data into account,” Valverde said, quoted by The Evening Standard.
“I had a coach (Cruyff) who used to say that we should run less than the opposition, that they should be doing the running. He has a statue at the stadium now and a ground named after him over there [at the training ground].”
On top of cryptic comparisons with Cruyff, Valverde also addressed specific criticism that came Barcelona’s way from their own goalkeeper.
It was claimed Barcelona’s players held an impromptu meeting in the aftermath of their win over Slavia Praha between themselves, but ter Stegen publically said: “I think we need to talk about some things. I think that’s something we have to look at ourselves.
“I won’t say it here because it’s more internal. It’s not my thing, I’d like to speak to the players who were on the pitch first.”
Responding to ter Stegen’s comments specifically, Valverde claimed that there was an overreaction at the full-time whistle as Barcelona were under a lot of pressure throughout the closing stages of the match.
“When matches end, everyone leaves with an opinion of what happened on the field,” he added, via The Express. “Matches can be seen in many ways, and if we have to solve something, we will solve it with within the club and not publicly.
“When the game ends, people’s impression is of the final minutes and they don’t think about the overall game. In the first half of the Slavia game we had two or three chances on goal, they attacked and we did as well.
“In the second half, they got an early goal and we managed to get the result we wanted in the end. They pressed us and that’s it. If it had been a 4-1 win, we would be talking like we had the same result as in Eibar (a 3-0 victory). This is football and it is normal.”
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