Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde joked his first 100 days in charge of the club have “not been boring” as he prepares the LaLiga leaders for Saturday’s match against rock-bottom Malaga.
Valverde has overseen 10 wins and a draw in his 11 matches in charge of the club, putting them four points clear at the top of LaLiga and on course for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
But Valverde had to deal with the acrimonious departure of Neymar just days into his tenure – prompting fan anger towards the club board – as well as the ongoing political turmoil surrounding Catalonia’s push for independence.
“These 100 days have not been boring,” Valverde said with a smile during his pre-match press conference on Friday. “Let’s hope the next 100 are quieter.”
Valverde may want the volume turning down but he will not want to see any change in the way his side are playing, with Barcelona already being tipped to do a treble this season.
“Our intention is to be strong in LaLiga and then to win everything,” he said, according to Marca.com. “But to win everything, the first thing is LaLiga, which is what we have in front of us.”
Saturday’s match appears to pose little danger on paper as Barcelona face rock-bottom Malaga, who have taken just one point from eight league games all season.
However, Malaga have a decent record against Barcelona, having won their last meeting in April and drawn the one before in November.
“It’s something to keep in mind,” Valverde said. “Malaga have done a good job against Barca regardless of which coach they have. They come in need, last with one point. “
Malaga coach Michel promised his team would travel to Barcelona with every intention of playing for the points on offer.
“We’re going there with our own intentions,” he said. “We’ve been working all week to find solutions and we know that, even so, it’s not easy. There are three points at stake and we’re going to fight for them as long as we can, and if it’s until the end, then all the better.”
Andres Pieto will start in goal as Roberto is injured.
“Roberto has been suffering all week with a severe inflammation,” the coach said. “Nothing’s broken, but it impedes him.”
Malaga’s only point to date came in a 3-3 draw with Athletic Bilbao on September 23, which was impressive in its manner as they scored two late goals despite being down to 10 men.
“There’s only one way to get out of this situation, and that’s with confidence, being responsible and by each player doing their job,” Michel added, according to Malaga’s website.
“The players came to this conclusion a while ago. I don’t know anyone who, in a team sport, gets out of a problem alone. Last season I went all out for my players and did very well for them. This year I’ll do the same for the guys, and I want them to know that.”