Valverde has to rest Barcelona’s big hitters now

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After another dominant El Clasico performance, and with the Champions League once again the priority, Ernesto Valverde must start tinkering with his squad.

His ‘safety first’ approach will need to take a back seat in a handful of the next few league games as Barca go for it in the European competition.

Though the Catalans can still conceivably be caught in La Liga, both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid are far enough behind for the Blaugrana to have a blip and still remain as leaders. Continue reading

Is Jordi Alba’s renewal good news for Barcelona?

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Last Thursday Barcelona announced that they would be renewing left-back Jordi Alba for the next five years, and placed a 500 million euro buyout clause on his new deal.

As statements of intent go, and after a period of uncertainty, it was pretty categoric from the Catalans.

Clearly, they rate their left-back highly enough to keep him at the club until the end of his career. Continue reading

Barcelona linked with Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal

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La Liga leaders Barcelona have been linked with a shock move for Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal, according to media reports in Spain.

The Spanish international is rumoured to be interesting Ernesto Valverde’s side, in a story by Catalan newspaper Diario Sport, this morning.

Despite tying current first choice left back Jordi Alba to a long term deal at the end of February, cover in the position has been a real concern for La Blaugrana at times this season.

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Barcelona eye Onana as Cillessen replacement

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Defending La Liga champions Barcelona are preparing a summer bid for Ajax goal keeper Andre Onana, according to reports in Spain.

The story, via respected radio station Radio Catalunya, statess that Ernesto Valverde is keen on bringing the Cameroonian international back to the club where he played as a youngster.

Onana, 22, signed for the Dutch side in 2015 – after five years as a youth team player at the Nou Camp – and he has impressed in over 100 senior appearances for them.

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What to expect from El Clasico (x2)

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For the first time in Barcelona’s rich and storied history, they will play two Clasico fixtures against Real Madrid back-to-back at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Not once since 1899 has that happened, and many commentators are suggesting that whichever of the two Spanish behemoths comes out on top over the two matches, they can look forward to another hugely successful season.

In Europe, Los Blancos reign supreme and have done for just over 1000 days now, a quite astonishing statistic in the modern era. Continue reading

Time for Barcelona to banish away day blues

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Here we are on the cusp of Barcelona’s biggest couple of weeks of the 2018/19 season.

At the time of writing, the match against Lyon is a few hours away, the first of four huge games for the Catalans, all away from home.

Following the trip to France, Ernesto Valverde’s side travel to Sevilla in La Liga before a double header against Real Madrid in the space of 72 hours. Continue reading

Valverde is still the best choice for Barcelona

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Although it came out of the blue, Ernesto Valverde’s renewal for another year at FC Barcelona is the correct decision.

The club needs continuity and stability and Valverde provides just that.

Well respected by the players, particularly the more senior ones in the side, he’s done precisely the job asked of him by the board since his appointment.

A poor night in Rome notwithstanding, there’s little that Valverde can be reproached for. Continue reading

Barcelona face tough run, as Real Madrid mount challenge

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Defending La Liga champions are facing a tough run of fixtures in domestic and European action, just as bitter rivals Real Madrid are preparing a late bid for the league title.

Ernesto Valverde’s side have drawn their last two league games, against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao, dropping four key points, in the same fortnight that Santiago Solari’s team have beaten Alaves and Atletico Madrid.

That has nudged Los Blancos ahead of their city rivals as the Catalan side’s main challengers, and the current leaders will be looking over their shoulder.

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Vidal will get his chance for revenge

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After not being able to overcome eternal rivals, Real Madrid, in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, Barcelona were dealt a further blow with the news that Arthur Melo has been ruled out for 3-4 weeks.

The Brazilian has been an incredible success story since his arrival from Gremio, to the extent that there are now genuine concerns as to how successful Barca will be in his absence.

He has given the Catalans an extra layer of security thanks to his ball retention and willingness to set the tempo and rhythm of a game, and they’ll certainly miss his input. Continue reading

Malcom has posed Valverde a few questions…

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The big games need big performances, and with Lionel Messi only on the bench for Barcelona against Real Madrid in midweek, Ernesto Valverde was counting on Malcom doing the business.

Perhaps the situation was forced upon him by Ousmane Dembele’s injury, because were the Frenchman fit then we would surely have seen him take his place on the right hand side of a front three.

As it was, his omission gave Malcom the chance to get some much-needed minutes under his belt and, hopefully, show the Catalans what he was capable of. Continue reading