Valverde admits Supercopa blow will fuel talk about his Barcelona future

By Sports Desk January 09, 2020

Ernesto Valverde admitted his future would come in for fresh scrutiny after Barcelona's dramatic defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana semi-final.

Goals from Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann looked set to send Barcelona into the final, as they recovered from conceding a Koke strike in the opening 20 seconds of the second half.

But Barcelona folded in the closing 10 minutes, and a penalty from Alvaro Morata was followed by a winner from Angel Correa as Atletico, second best for almost all of the match up to then, snatched a remarkable win.

It left Diego Simeone, Atletico's hard-taskmaster coach, jumping for joy on the touchline, while Valverde was left to reflect on a damaging defeat.

He has been repairing a reputation that took a battering with Barcelona's 4-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League semi-finals last term, when the Reds overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit.

But this meek surrender will not help, and Valverde said afterwards, when asked about his position: "We know what football is like and there is always instability when you lose. We will talk about this, it is inevitable.

"But I'll do my thing, which is coaching."

He added: "Of course, it was a match which we dominated. It seemed we had it in hand. It was a complete performance except in specific moments"

Valverde said Atletico throwing their quickest players forward in the closing stages "surprised" Barcelona.

"I don't think it was an accumulation of situations, but two actions that cost us dearly," he said.

He said it had been an "intense" match and that Barcelona's two disallowed goals in the second half, both after VAR reviews, had given Atletico the lifeline upon which they capitalised.

Simeone sent on Marcos Llorente for the final 18 minutes and felt he made a difference in midfield.

"From there the team looked better. It seemed that if we equalised we would win," Simeone said.

"With the best teams like Barca, Madrid, [Manchester] City ... they are on a higher level and we have to be patient. We have to play a final now."

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    Diego Simeone has no issue with his Atletico Madrid side being considered underdogs once more when they take on European champions Bayern Munich.

    Simeone's Atleti have generally revelled in taking on the continent's elite, most recently when they stunned Liverpool at Anfield at the last-16 stage of last season's Champions League.

    Indeed, being tagged as favourites has not always seemed to rest as easily with Los Colchoneros, as was the case when RB Leipzig handed them a 2-1 defeat in the quarter-finals last time around.

    Speaking at a pre-match news conference, Simeone said he had no complaints over his side still being viewed as outsiders after proving to be a force in Europe over the past decade.

    "The truth is that we do not stop to listen to what may come from outside," he said.

    "We are on the way to continue progressing, to be consistent in the game, to be solid as a team and we will play against an important rival, trying to take the game [to a position] where we can do damage.

    "This will be the third time we face Bayern since 2016. It’s exciting to face one of the best sides in the world.

    "We have to work well as a team and we’ll try to take the game in the direction we want it to go."

    Simeone and his players will have to do so without injured stars Diego Costa, Jose Gimenez, Saul Niguez and Sime Vrsaljko.

    Nevertheless, experienced midfielder Koke insists they are targeting victory at the Allianz Arena.

    "Whenever we go to any field we go out to win," Koke said. "We do not look to see if we are going to draw.

    "Regardless of the competition, even a friendly one. We will try here tomorrow."

    Asked whether the Liverpool victory set a precedent in that regard, the Spain international replied: "They are different games. We have the ability to hurt Bayern with intensity and being aggressive.

    "It is different, but they are coming off a great streak. We will try to be the first ones to make them lose."

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    Van Dijk is likely to miss most of the campaign after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage following a wild challenge from Jordan Pickford in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

    With Van Dijk having been flagged offside, Everton's goalkeeper did not receive any punishment for the tackle, while the Football Association confirmed on Monday that Pickford would not face retrospective action.

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    The incidents left a sour taste for Wijnaldum, with the Dutchman believing Everton – who had four players carded on Saturday compared to Liverpool's two – have a track record of being too robust in derbies.

    "Of course we are upset. The way Pickford went in was completely stupid," he said.

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    While Richarlison issued an apology for his tackle on Thiago, it was confirmed on Sunday that Van Dijk will require surgery and Wijnaldum acknowledged that the squad are hugely concerned for their star defender.

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    "Everyone has a really bad feeling about it. When we were speaking with the players after Saturday I think none of the players slept because of what happened with Virgil. It's a really hard one to take.

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    Jurgen Klopp has hit out at Jamie Carragher for suggesting Liverpool took a risk by going into the new campaign with just three senior centre-halves.

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    Van Dijk's injury was the result of a poor challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, which was neither punished by the referee nor video assistant referee, or indeed retrospectively.

    Thiago Alcantara also ended up on the wrong end of a red-card tackle from Richarlison late in the same game, and Klopp was clearly still angered by both situations, expressing frustration that Liverpool have been the only ones left to "deal with the consequences".

    Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match at Ajax, which Thiago will also miss, Klopp said: "You judge us, you judge everybody. A couple of days ago something happened that should not have happened in a football game. And it’s not the first time. I see it similar to my players.

    "Both challenges were difficult to accept. What we all can do is try to change these kind of things. I spoke the day after, it’s really hard for us, yes he’s a world-class player, injuries happen.

    "In the last four years, we were the leader of the fair play table. People make a joke about it.

    "In this game, a few things came together. I have to say, first the ref didn’t see it. Michael Oliver, I don’t understand – he had the best view. VAR forgets the rules.

    "As a human being, it’s not that I want a player to be punished, but it’s something we all agree on, you have to deal with the consequences. At the moment, only Virgil and Thiago have to deal with the consequences.

    "You keep all these stories up, I’m here for a Champions League. But you asked these questions. We didn’t do anything wrong in the game, or since then, but our players are the ones that suffer and it doesn’t feel right.

    "We all accept injuries can happen, but it should be in a normal challenge."

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