Valverde wants La Liga crown before Champions League semi-final

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has acknowledged that he would prefer the Catalans sealing the La Liga title before the Champions League semi-final stage. The Blaugrana are set to tackle Liverpool across two legs of the elite competition at the beginning of next month and Valverde seems keen on sealing the title by then.

Speaking in a press conference, Valverde said that any team would prefer to seal the title at the earliest and they are optimistic of doing so this month, he said: “A lot of people ask me if we want to get La Liga boxed off and that’s what anyone would want to do. We want to win La Liga, whenever that may be and we’ll see if we can get that done. It looks easy on paper: a win here, a draw there, we win it on a certain day but we have a lot of good teams to face with a lot to play for and things aren’t easy.”
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Marc-Andre Ter Stegen insists Barcelona are more than just Messi

Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen has insisted that Barcelona are more than just Lionel Messi and the credit should also be given to the remaining 10 players for the Champions League win over PSV Eindhoven. The Blaugrana kick-started their European campaign with a comfortable 4-0 triumph over the Dutch champions and Messi was once more the standout performer for the Catalan giants after contributing his eighth hat-trick in the competition.

Speaking after the game, Ter Stegen admitted that Messi always turns up for the La Liga holders and nobody can compare him with any other player. However, the shot-stopper wanted respect for the other players within the squad and insists they were equally influential towards the final result on the night, he said: “Lionel Messi always turns up for us, everyone knows his level and nobody can compare to him. But while Leo always is fantastic, there are ten other players in our team who helped us in this victory too, we are a team and not just one individual.”
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Thomas Vermaelen: Lionel Messi is better than ‘world-class’ Eden Hazard

Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen has said that Lionel Messi is on a different level to Eden Hazard despite the latter becoming the go-to player in the Chelsea ranks. The former Arsenal man is set to return to London this week when the Catalan giants face-off against the Blues in the Champions League round of 16 first-leg.


In an interview with The Guardian, the experienced centre-back was asked to compare the individual abilities of Hazard and Messi. Though he initially admitted that there are similarities in their style of play, the 32-year-old stressed it is difficult to place him into the calibre of Messi, who has five Ballon d’Or titles to his name.
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