Ernesto Valverde Denies Bust-Up Between Gerard Pique And Lionel Messi
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has denied suggestions of a bust-up between Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi in the aftermath of the club’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of AS Roma. The Blaugrana had a comfortable 4-1 advantage over the Giallorossi in the quarter-final first-leg, and they surprisingly underperformed at the Stadio Olimpico, where the hosts staged a dramatic comeback with a 3-0 triumph.
Following the defeat, reports had claimed that Pique and Messi had a rift and complained about the game tactics on board their flight to Catalonia. However, this has been dismissed by Valverde, who is focused on the league games ahead, he said: “I have nothing to say about that [Messi and Pique asking for explanations] mostly because nothing like that happened. The team have reacted well since the game.
We are in a difficult moment, possibly our second worst of the season after August [and the Supercopa de Espana defeats]. We lost and we’re out of a competition that we were very excited about and do feel sorry for ourselves and the fans. But if we continue to dwell on that game and think about, we will keep losing.”
Barcelona were considered as one of the favourites for the Champions League crown, but the surprise defeat now sees them with just two trophies to fight for. The Catalan giants are pretty much cruising towards the La Liga crown with a 11-point advantage over second-placed Atletico Madrid, and they need to just keep their heads together in order to lift yet another Spanish title.
Valverde’s side entertain Valencia in the Spanish La Liga this weekend, and they will be aiming to bounce back with a victory with their Copa del Rey final against Sevilla scheduled in just a week’s time. Prior to that, Barca have a midweek game against Celta Vigo, and there could be significant changes with a view to the Cup final. Barcelona have won the competition in the last three seasons.