BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde knows his side can play better than in their last few matches but urged them not to lose perspective when they host Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday with a chance to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Catalans are top of La Liga and also lead Group F, which also contains Inter Milan and Slavia Prague, but have produced a series of underwhelming displays recently which have brought serious criticism.
Their last Champions League match was a dire goalless draw at home to Slavia Prague, while they needed a freak, late goal from Arturo Vidal to overcome La Liga’s basement club Leganes 2-1 last weekend.
“Here at Barca there is always turbulence and there always will be, if people aren’t complaining about one thing then they are complaining about another,” he told a news conference.
“We have just won a game in which we suffered a lot and was an uphill struggle for us but we won it. The problem is that here we are asked to give a football masterclass in every game and sometimes we are not able to.”
Valverde, who has a knack of keeping his cool in the face of pressure, advised his players to not get too bogged down by what they have been doing wrong.
“We could also focus on the good things we are doing, like the fact we managed to come from behind and win a very difficult game the other day,” he said.
“We showed a good attitude and never lost control of the game, we should appreciate that. I understand that there is a tendency to stick the knife in at every opportunity but we should look on the bright side so that we don’t lose our heads.”
Valverde’s side will seal their place in the knockout stages as group winners if they beat Dortmund, who are second in the standings on seven points and would advance to the last 16 with victory at the Camp Nou.
“The good thing is that you always have another game to look forward to and now we’re playing Dortmund, we will try to win and make our fans happy again,” added the coach.
“We’re in a strong position and we want to take advantage of that, and we are also a very good team at home.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)