Failure to defeat Olympiacos on Tuesday evening ensured that Barcelona didn’t secure early qualification for the knockout phase, however Ernesto Valverde believes his team has taken a step forward, albeit not the desired on.
It was a night of missed opportunities for the visitors as the Greek defence frustrated the Blaugrana all evening long.
“We have taken a step forward, although not the one we wanted,” he explained in his post-match press conference.”We have tried to get to the opposition goal through possession on many occasions.
“They have done a great defensive job, we wanted our qualification, but it wasn’t to be.
“One of the decisions which faced the Spanish coach prior to kick-off was who to select either Sergi Roberto or Gerard Deulofeu.
“I had the option with starting with Sergi or Deulofeu,” he admitted.
“I considered the profile of the match and preferred to start Sergi.
“He works hard and has the ability to make space.”Olympiacos’ deep defensive line proved a problem for the Catalan giants and while they simply could not break through, something that was recognized by the former Athletic Club coach.
“The problem of the opponent dropping so far back is that you begin to push,” he intimated.”The intensity of this game then leads to tiredness in your players.
“It is the most difficult part of football, breaking down a closed defense.”