Valverde: I expect Betis to push

On the eve of his first La Liga match in charge at Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde spoke about what he expects from the opposition and gave updates on his squad’s condition.

The former Athletic Bilbao manager discussed his approach to the season opener – a potentially tricky encounter with Real Betis – and also revealed that he is considering changing the role of Lionel Messi back to a false 9.

“I expect a Betis side that will try to push on and want to take the initiative,” he told reporters at a Press conference for the match.

“They’re a team that portray the image of their Coach. I’m expecting a game in which the team that know how to deal with pressure will have the pitch to run and create chances. They’ve played against great teams like Inter and Milan,” the coach continued.

He went on to reveal that the team to take the field will be missing a number of key players.

“Iniesta didn’t train, Paulinho trained yesterday but it’s still early for him, while Pique worked. We’ll see with them.

“Suarez? He’s a big miss for us. We know his quality and we’ll see if he can recover quickly,” he stated when asked about the condition of one of his star forwards.

“Messi’s our most important player, he’s the best player in the world. That’s how lucky we are, but we must help each other.

“He has a clear role in attack, but we must find the approach that makes him feel at ease and allows him to play his game and supply the others. All eyes are on him.

“I’d like the market to close before starting the League so we can work with the necessary mechanisms to face the fronts we’re competing on.

“Messi as a false 9? I’m considering all possibilities, especially those that give us balance in attack and defence,” he added.

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