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Valverde: The number of players from Real and Barca academies in the Spanish is similar

  /  autty

In his pre-match press conference ahead of Barcelona's match against Real Sociedad, Ernesto Valverde gave this thoughts on a number of issues, including the latest Spain squad and lack of Barcelona players.

The recent group of players that national team coach Luis Enrique selected featured a majority of Real Madrid players.

"I think you have to know how to read things. In the same way that before there were more Barcelona players, now there are more from Madrid," Valverde said.

"There are players that aren't around now like Andres [Iniesta], [Gerard] Pique and Jordi Alba... It's true that Madrid have recently signed players that are eligible: [Marco] Asensio, Isco, [Dani] Ceballos... If you take a look at the players from Madrid's academy and Barcelona's, they are similar. In any case, we will fight to change that and make sure more of our players are picked," he explained.

The Barcelona coach then turned his attention to the Real Sociedad game.

"It's a bit soon to make assessments, above all because their three matches have been away from home. They have picked up some good results, the other day when they lost it was in the last minute," he said of this weekend's opponents.

"You can see [Asier] Garitano's work, he has a big challenge. Real [Sociedad] have a great team and for us it's a historically difficult game. Last year we broke the bad run but it took a lot of work.

"They are a team that keep the quality they have. It's true they've changed some players and are struggling through injury, but in any case they are a dangerous opponent."

Valverde stressed the importance of starting well away at the Estadio Anoeta, having struggled against Huesca in the early stages.

"We know the pressure we will be put under away from home in the league. It's not the same as at home. We have to start the game well, not like the other day against Huesca where we conceded a goal after two minutes," he admitted.

"We know that the stadium has changed and the athletics track is not there now, their crowd will be closer to us and can get behind their team more."

He also suggested that with the hectic schedule that awaits his team, rotations are likely.

"We have to have more than eleven players for these matches. We have three days between the two matches but we have just come back from an international break. Then next week is a little difficult because we have three in six days and then we play against Tottenham. We will have to rotate players to avoid injuries and stay fresh," he confirmed.

Valverde appeared fed up of talking about the controversial proposal to play against Girona in Miami.

"Bearing in mind that barely two or three weeks ago we spoke about it, something that isn't until January, it's incredible if we continue at this pace. We will see what happens it's still very far away," he told the media.

He appeared happy that Messi and Pique didn't have to travel long distances with their countries.

"The fact that there are players who haven't expended all this energy is something you consider. You have time to train, to rest, avoid those long journeys. In that sense it's better for us, I don't deny it.

"We always expect the best from Messi, just like the others. Irrespective of whether he played in midweek or not, we know that matches away from home and particularly against Real Sociedad are very difficult. The fresher you are the better."

Valverde spoke about the importance of Sergio Busquets, the plan for Arthur and Arturo Vidal as well as who might replace Jordi Alba.

"He [Busquets] is a very important player for us, for the team and of course the club. He is a player that marks the team's style and way of playing, not only now but for many years.

"You always rely on those players and also those who come from outside. Ivan [Rakitic], the case of Arthur and those who have been arriving. He is a player who, because of his career, not only in Barcelona but also in the national team, is recognised and rightly so," he said of the Spanish midfielder.

"Is he irreplaceable? In the end, if one player can't play another has to. It's like with Andres [Iniesta], there is no-one like Andres, but if he goes another has to play, you can't play with 10. He is a unique player and what he gives others can't.

"Arthur is a valid option, Sergi Roberto has also played in that position in preseason so we have several options," he continued.

"The plan that I have for them [Arthur and Vidal] is that when they play we can win matches. It's true that they've joined a competitive squad, that they have to adapt to a new team, and this week they've had to travel a lot.

"We expect a lot from them. Maybe this week isn't the best time for them. Arthur is coming from the United States and is the last to join us with Philippe Coutinho and Arturo [Vidal] is coming from Korea.

"We will see [about who replaces Jordi Alba]. We have several options. It's possible that Miranda, Thomas Vermaelen, Sergio Roberto could play as three centre backs."

He finally spoke about the change in Ousmane Dembele from this season to last.

"He is the same player, we want him to have an important offensive mentality because he has a great talent for dribbling, for the final third, for goals, passing and we want him to be consistent. There are still tough games to come where he will have to respond, but it's his job."