BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Ernesto Valverde has a message for his gamers earlier than Barcelona hosts Atletico Madrid on Saturday in a match on the way to pass an extended way toward determining the Spanish league name. Mind the gap — in protection.

Barcelona’s returned line turned into exposed on numerous activities through Villarreal on Tuesday when Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez each scored past due to rescue a 4-four draw and restrict the damage to Barcelona’s lead over Atletico atop the standings. Valverde is now hoping to use that bad group overall performance. It becomes bailed out by using its strikers’ brilliance sure Barcelona keeps Atletico looking at Camp Nou Stadium.

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“The other day, we did not play well. We had been disorganized in the attack, and that made us go through in defense,” Valverde stated. “Any adversary who watched the match noticed a way to assault us by way of looking to play long balls into space at the back of our strains.”
Barcelona might be boosted by way of returning its great defender, Gerard Pique, who rested towards Villarreal, so he would not risk choosing up a 5th yellow card and accordingly a suspension against Atletico. Replacement Samuel Umtiti, who’s a ways from his top health after lacking most of the season with knee damage, struggled to preserve up with the tempo of Villarreal’s speedy forwards.

Against Atletico, Barcelona will face Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata in the attack. Both are players who thrive in an open area and do not need a good deal to generate scoring chances. “We are going up towards brief gamers, and (Pique) will help us a lot,” Valverde stated. Valverde expects Atletico to pick out its moments to strain up the sphere to provoke a costly passing error using Barcelona near its goal. Then, trade that tactic with conserving again and ready to marvel on a counterattack.

“They pressure very well — every so often they do it at the start of the fit, different times they wait,” Valverde said. “Sometimes, they let you think that you are dominating them with the ball intending to strike at the ruin. And they have got amazing passers to begin a counterattack in Koke or Saul (Niguez). We will see both options.” But of the route, if the healthy turn in opposition to them, Barcelona usually has Messi.

The membership’s all-time main scorer has been fantastic currently. He leads the league with 32 desires thru 30 rounds and has nine dreams in his remaining 5 games, including scoring from loose kicks in his ultimate three outings. “The word is not fear. It’s recognized,” Atletico teach Diego Simeone stated of Messi. “He is pure nice. There are moments whilst you want to elevate your precision, and that’s what Messi is doing.”

Atletico’s best achievement underneath Simeone took place in 2014, while it beat the odds through winning the Liga title after incomes a 1-1 draw at Barcelona in a winner-take-all showdown inside the final sport. Otherwise, Barcelona has been a source of frustration. Atletico hasn’t rained in 18 consecutive visits to the Catalan capital. Barcelona leads Atletico using 8 points with eight suits last, so it is practically an ought to-win for Atletico if it desires to preserve alive its title challenge. “The handiest sensible alternative we’ve is to win tomorrow,” Simeone stated.