Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said his side cannot “stay at home crying” after their painful 3-0 defeat at AS Roma which dumped them out of the Champions League on away goals, urging them to focus on winning the La Liga title.
Valverde faced some pointed questions in a news conference ahead of Saturday’s league game at home to Valencia, including being asked if he had betrayed Barca’s usual attacking style by trying to protect their 4-1 first leg advantage in Rome.
The coach said he and his players were still down after their shock elimination from Europe’s elite competition. However, he highlighted the club’s progress in the league where they are within 10 points of taking the title back from Real Madrid.
“The fans reaction will depend on how we react on the pitch and we need 10 more points to win the league and we should not forget that at the moment another team are the champions,” Valverde said on Friday.
“We cannot stay at home crying. If we win, we’ll need only seven more points (to clinch the title) and that was unthinkable a few months ago. We shouldn’t be thinking about what we’ve lost, but instead focus on what we can win.”
Barca top the standings on 79 points after 31 games while nearest challengers Atletico Madrid are 11 back on 68. The Catalans will set a Spanish top-flight record of 39 games unbeaten if they avoid defeat to third-placed Valencia.
They can also take a step towards winning a domestic double when they play Sevilla in the King’s Cup final on April 21.
Valverde compared the current negative atmosphere around the team to the start of the campaign when they had lost back-to-back Spanish Super Cup games to Real Madrid.
“I would like us to have a positive reaction to this like we had in August, when it looked like the world was falling in on us but we recharged our batteries, moved forward and got to the situation we’re in at the moment,” Valverde said.
“We feel responsible for everything, we feel very bad for our disappointed fans but you can’t think about what you should have done because what has happened can’t be changed.”
Sergio Busquets has been named in the squad to face Valencia despite not being 100 percent fit following a foot injury, with fellow midfielder Ivan Rakitic ruled out after undergoing surgery on his finger.
“I don’t know if I would have rested him if Rakitic was available. He has a little discomfort, but it’s an important game,” added the coach.