The first step to winning the title, is to beat Atletico – Luiz Enrique
As Barcelona gears up to face Atletico, in this clash of La Liga champions, the Catalans coach, Luiz Enrique believes in order to win the La Liga title this season, Barcelona must first defeat Diego Simeone’s side.
The two teams who have a lot of history together, are separated by one point and both teams will be determined to get maximum points and seal second place behind table toppers Real Madrid.
Luiz Enrique, the ever perceptive one realizes the importance and the significance of defeating Atletico, who seem to be real contenders for the title this season.
“They look like they’re practically the same team that was so successful in the last few years, especially the way they defend and in other aspects of play like transition game, counterattack,” Luis Enrique told a news conference.
“They’re very good at set-pieces. And with their new players and their other players, they’re one of the best teams in [La Liga]. They’re aspiring to all the titles on the table, like they have in recent years with Simeone as their coach. And we have to do a lot of things well. Commit very few errors, play our game, try to control possession – we have to play a complete game.”
“There hasn’t been any easy game against them in the last few years. They’re a very direct team. We have to beat them in order to win the title. We’re going to need to do everything well in order to beat them. They’re very solid, they play great defensively. They’re capable of creating pressure up high. And defensively they’re probably the best team and that’s how complex it is to beat them. That’s indicative of the work they do.”
“They have very good players in attack as well. A lot of options to attack both up the middle and out on the wing. When you put all these things together, it turns out to be a very complicated team [to play against].”
Umtiti injured, to miss Atletico clash tonight
Barcelona have announced that Samuel Umtiti will not feature in the clash against Atletico, after suffering a knee injury in training, which will keep him sidelined for a few weeks.
Barcelona’s medical team revealed the 22-year old sprained a ligament in his knee but did not reveal when he will be fully healed to play once again.
Umtiti has made three starts out of four for Barcelona this season, which indicates that he is a key figure in the team. It will be interesting to see who Luiz Enrique will put in as a replacement in the clash against Atletico.
Valencia gives Ayestaran the boot
Valencia have let go of coach Pako Ayestaran, after the team suffered four consecutive defeats, leaving them at the bottom of the La Liga table.
Ayestaran, who’s contract was expected to end in March, 2018, took over from Tv pundit Gary Naville, who also had problems turning the team around and was eventually let go after one season.
Below is the club’s statement:
“After the meeting of the board of directors, Valencia Football Club has decided to relieve from office the coach Pako Ayestaran,” the statement read. The decision was made after analysing the current sporting situation and results.
“After the meeting of the board of directors, Valencia Football Club has decided to relieve from office the coach Pako Ayestaran. The decision was made after analysing the current sporting situation and results.”
Vero Gonzalez will take over coaching the team, until the club finds a worthy replacement.
Written by Doyinsola Olaniyan