Ernesto Valverde warns Barcelona: “We’re not champions yet!”

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde refuses to drop his guard despite the seeing his side move another step closer to wrapping up another La Liga title.

The Blaugrana re-established their nine-point advantage over Atletico Madrid on Saturday following a 2-1 victory against Real Sociedad.

Although Barcelona’s performance at Camp Nou was hardly the same one they showed against Manchester United in the Champions League mid-week.

Sociedad, perhaps should have gone in front only for Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to deny Juanmi’s close-range shot before Willian Jose’s effort went over the bar.

Eventually, the Catalan giants did take control when defender Clement Lenglet headed in a corner-kick. Former Southampton forward Juanmi equalised in the 62nd-minute for Sociedad before Jordi Alba scored a match-winner two minutes later.

Now, Barcelona need just a further six points from their remaining five games to retain their La Liga crown.

“Today was always going to be a very important game and we have nine points left until we’re champions, but it’s very difficult to win,” said Valverde, according to Marca.

“I know that people already say that we are champions, but we’re not. We have to go game by game to win until the end.

“This isn’t over, not until we get to the last game is everything done. It will always be difficult.”

On Barcelona’s struggles, Valverde said: “When there is a game like the one against Manchester United, which is the centre of attention, you then have to get back to reactivating the team for another game which is fundamental.

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“The games after Champions League matches are difficult for us all. The game was uncomfortable, as they played well and tried to bring the play out from the back.

“We couldn’t bring it out as we wanted to. We lacked a spark and freshness to be able to decide the game, but the goal gave us tranquillity.

“In the second half we were better, but the goal woke them up. Fortunately, Jordi Alba’s goal then arrived.”

Philippe Coutinho’s goal celebrations against United in the Champions League has earned him plenty of criticism from the likes of Rivaldo and Barcelona fans alike.

After scoring from 25 yards out, the Brazilian playmaker shut his eyes and placed his fingers in his ears in front of the club supporters.

And Coutinho found himself subjected to whistles when coming on for Ousmane Dembele in the 71st-minute.

“I think that there are anecdotal things as everything that goes on at our club becomes very important, but the fans are with Coutinho and Coutinho is with the fans,” said Valverde.

Barcelona will return to action on Tuesday away to Deportivo Alaves in another La Liga match.

 

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