Barca fully focused on Sociedad before Clasico - Valverde
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BARCELONA - Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said his side will not take their eye off the ball in Saturday’s La Liga trip to Real Sociedad, despite the looming Clasico clash with great rivals Real Madrid next Wednesday.
The Catalans, who sit top of the league on goal difference ahead of Madrid, have a poor record on their visits to the fourth-placed Basque outfit, something which Valverde believes will help his players focus on the task at hand.
“Tomorrow will be a really tough game. It’s one of the toughest away trips we have. We’ve won there in the last two seasons but before that we were losing there year after year," he told a news conference.
“Add into the mix that Sociedad are fourth in the table, with good players on the up and that when we last faced them at our ground they pushed us hard and it was really tough for us to resist their pressure.
“I appreciate the Clasico gets the headlines, but we aren’t going to lose our focus because the three points available against Sociedad are equally as valuable as the three against Madrid. The players are more focused on our next game.”
The Catalans have a poor record on their visits to the fourth-placed Basque outfit. Photo: Alessandro Garufalu
Valverde also said that fullbacks Jordi Alba and Nelson Semedo face late fitness tests, however, midfielder Artur is likely to join forward Ousmane Dembele on the sidelines for the trip to San Sebastian.
"They (Alba and Semedo) came back into training before our last game, but they didn't have the green light from the medical staff in midweek. Hopefully that'll come and they can join up with the squad. Artur has a groin issue and hasn't trained so he's a doubt for tomorrow."
Sociedad, who topped La Liga at the start of November, have stumbled of late, slipping to fourth on 27 points, seven behind both Barca and Madrid.