Champions League

Valverde remaining calm after excellent Barca start

2017-10-19 09:04
Ernesto Valverde.(Getty Images)

Barcelona - Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde celebrated his first 100 days in charge and Lionel Messi hit his 100th European goal as the Catalan giants swept aside Olympiakos 3-1 on Wednesday.

Valverde has overseen a sublime start of 10 wins to go with a draw at Atletico Madrid last weekend in his first 11 La Liga and Champions League matches in charge.

However, that trouble-free start to life on the field contrasts with a series of distractions surrounding the club.

Valverde's men have coped admirably with the departure of Neymar, which provoked calls for club president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign, and the tense political situation sweeping Catalonia.

In their first appearance at the Camp Nou since beating Las Palmas behind closed doors as a violence-marred referendum on Catalan independence took place on October 1, Barca were met with a largely empty stadium due to torrential rain in the hours before kick-off.

Yet there were still calls for Bartomeu's head, chants in favour of independence and a banner reading "Freedom for Catalonia."

"We concentrate on football so that the fans can enjoy themselves," said a characteristically calm Valverde.

"In the stadium people come to express themselves, but the most fundamental thing is that they come to see their team win and that is what we are here for...to try to win.

"As the Barca coach I represent loads of people with many different personal opinions. The only thing that interests me is that my fans are happy and that the flag we defend is that of Barcelona."

A third straight win in Champions League Group D firmly maintains Barca's place at the top of the section, three points clear of Italian champions Juventus, who beat Sporting Lisbon 2-1 in Turin on Wednesday.

And Barca also enjoy a four-point lead at the top of La Liga thanks to Valverde's bright start.

"He has made the Camp Nou and the members fall in love with him," said Bartomeu of Valverde's start. "They are 100 very optimistic days and we have to be ambitious."

Barca did as much damage to themselves as a meek Olympiakos as, after Dimitrios Nikolaou's early own goal, Gerard Pique got himself sent-off for slapping the ball into the net to pick up a second yellow card just before half-time.

Yet the hosts numerical disadvantage mattered little with Messi on their side as the Argentine's free-kick took his tally in the Champions League to 97 in his career, allied to three goals in UEFA Super Cup finals.

And Messi was involved again for Barca's third as his low cutback was driven home by Lucas Digne before Nikolaou atoned for his earlier error with a late consolation.

"The results are favouring us, but what matters is to be calm when things go well and badly," added Valverde.

"We know Barca is an enormous club and moves in extremes. Our intention is to maintain that calm because that suits us."

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights

Fixtures
Tuesday, 05 December 2017
Bayern Munchen v PSG, Allianz-Arena 21:45
Barcelona v Sporting CP, Camp Nou 21:45
Celtic v Anderlecht, Celtic Park 21:45
Benfica v Basel, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 21:45
Manchester United v CSKA Moskva, Old Trafford 21:45
Olympiakos Piraeus v Juventus, Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki 21:45
Roma v Qarabag, Stadio Olimpico 21:45
Chelsea v Atletico Madrid, Stamford Bridge 21:45
Wednesday, 06 December 2017
Liverpool v Spartak Moskva, Anfield 21:45
Porto v Monaco, Estadio Do Dragao 21:45
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:45
Maribor v Sevilla, Ljudski vrt 21:45
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:45
RB Leipzig v Besiktas, Red Bull Arena 21:45
Feyenoord v Napoli, Stadion Feijenoord 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v APOEL, Wembley Stadium 21:45
Logs
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured

The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.