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Valverde keen for Barcelona to move on from criticism after Levante defeat

Barca were beaten 3-1 at Levante on Saturday but could seal Champions League qualification on Tuesday if results go their way.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde saw his side lose at Levante on Saturday (Nick Potts/PA)
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde saw his side lose at Levante on Saturday (Nick Potts/PA)

By PA Sport Staff

Ernesto Valverde says Barcelona must swiftly move on from the criticism which greeted the end of their seven-match winning run by beating Slavia Prague in the Champions League.

Barca know victory over the Czech champions on Tuesday evening will be a major step towards the knockout stages of the competition.

The in-form LaLiga leaders have been flying in recent weeks but were brought back down to earth at the weekend with a surprise 3-1 loss at Levante.

Every defeat for the Catalan club brings increased scrutiny on manager Valverde and he is eager for an immediate return to winning ways to stave off pressure.

“We were on a very good run, it seems that defeats always seem to come at the worst times,” Valverde told Barca’s website

“But things happen very quickly in football and we’ve got a chance to turn things around very quickly – let’s hope we can do that.

“It’s a very important game. After a defeat, there is always criticism, we need to put that behind us.”

Barcelona, whose cause will not helped by the absence of injured forward Luis Suarez, sit top of Group F and will move on to 10 points from four matches with victory over Slavia at the Nou Camp.

Depending on the result of Borussia Dortmund’s meeting with Inter Milan in Germany, that could be sufficient to all but guarantee Barca a place in the last 16.

The Catalan club laboured to a 2-1 success in Prague less than a fortnight ago and returned to Spain indebted to goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen following a string of fine saves.

Valverde believes Slavia, who are bottom of the group with a single point but have an 11-point lead at the top of the Czech league, can approach the game with little pressure.

“We know that the points tomorrow are very important because they’ll give us 10 points, leave Slavia way behind and, depending on what Inter and Dortmund do, I’m sure that we’ll be in a very strong position,” said Valverde.

“They are a team that likes to take the initiative.

“In their own league, they are winning by quite a large margin, they like to attack with a lot of players, that makes them very dangerous.

“They have got nothing to lose, they will try to get a result against us tomorrow.”

Slavia remain unbeaten in their domestic league and on course to comfortably defend their title.

Head coach Jindrich Trpisovsky says Barcelona cannot afford a second successive defeat and expects his team to undergo a “baptism by fire”.

“We will make everything to present ourselves in the same way as usual but there are always two armies on the pitch and it’s also about what the other army allows you and what can you make them do,” said Trpisovsky, according to his club’s website.

“But we want to stick to the game we are used to. It will be baptism by fire for us on Tuesday and we are determined to do maximum to play as we have played at home.

“Barcelona will try to redeem the loss at Levante. It’s the Champions league game and no big club can afford to lose twice in a row.

“They will be careful after the defeat and they will try to do their best in front of their home crowd.”

The visitors will be missing centre-back David Hovorka after he last week suffered cruciate ligament damage.

PA

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