Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde hails Champions League's capacity to thrill

Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde hails Champions League's capacity to thrill

After six games without a goal, he has now hit six in his last four.

Barcelona boss Valverde was quoted by Marca as saying in his post-match press conference: "We wanted to close out our lead, we did everything possible, but we're happy because we managed to qualify".

FC Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen (1) during the match FC Barcelona against Real Madrid, for the round 10 of the Liga Santander, played at Camp Nou on 28th October 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.

"We would like to win and seal qualification for the knockout stage". It was a top match and very intense, with lots of tackles. We expect them to have a little more pressing and pressure high up the pitch. They passed the ball around really well.

The two teams will play the reverse fixture at the San Siro on Tuesday in Milan. Barcelona has cruised thus far in Champions League play, going 3-0-0 with a plus-eight goal differential. Meanwhile, Jordi Alba has arguably been Barcelona's best player in the absence of Messi, and should be the left-back for the vistors, while Sergi Roberto is likely to start on the opposite flank. With Umtiti out, Barcelona will turn to a center-back pairing of Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique to stop Icardi again. "But we never gave up, we kept fighting and I got the goal".

Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Arthur are expected to make up the midfield. Suarez has picked up the slack for Barcelona since Messi was injured.

In team news, much of the buildup has been dominated by the return for Leo Messi to the side. The visitors still almost managed to win the match when substitute Malcom netted with seven minutes remaining, moments after coming off the bench. The club have named Messi in their squad for the match at the San Siro, even if he is yet to be given the medical all-clear. "The message from this match is that we want to qualify from the group, we wanted to take points from this match knowing that now we have two hard matches".

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