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Valverde: Players are relaxed ahead of final push

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Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes his players are relaxed ahead of the final run-in of the campaign.

Barca are in the hunt for a treble this season and would easily clinch the title if they record successive wins against Alaves and Levante.

However, that could even be wrapped up sooner if Valencia beat closest rivals Atleti on Wednesday.

Sitting nine points clear of Atletico with five games left, it appears only a matter of time before Valverde’s side are crowned Spanish champions for the 26th time.

“They are used to pressure,” Valverde said at a press conference on Monday night.

“The team have always responded in difficult games. We are calm but we know we are in the final stretch now and that always encourages you, it helps you push through to the end.”

Clinching the title early would allow Barcelona to focus on their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool.

There is equally another opportunity to claim another trophy against Valencia in the Copa del Rey final in Seville on May 25.

“The players look fine to me,” Valverde said via AFP. “It is normal that at this point you notice a bit of fatigue but we let ourselves be spurred on by our motivation. When you have challenges ahead, your legs always feel fresh.

“It is true that when you win something surprisingly, the joy is greater,” Valverde said.

“And when you have a big lead, it becomes predictable. But a predictable victory can also be a great victory.

“Last year we were top with a big advantage and this year it is the same.”