Valverde urges treble focus after Barca's LaLiga triumph
Ernesto Valverde sent a timely reminder to his Barcelona players of the challenges ahead after they wrapped up the title in LaLiga on Saturday.
Lionel Messi came off the bench to score the only goal against Levante at Camp Nou, ensuring Barca retained their top-flight crown by moving nine points clear of Atletico Madrid – against whom they boast a superior head-to-head record – with three games to go.
Although the Catalan giants enjoyed the post-match celebrations on the pitch with family and friends, Valverde called for focus with the Champions League and Copa del Rey still up for grabs.
"We are happy, but we still have challenges ahead," said the Barca coach, with Liverpool the visitors on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
"Winning the title with distance and with margin are things that with the competitors we have is difficult."
Messi was named on the bench for the second match running but came on at the interval for profligate former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho.
The Argentinian superstar made the difference, breaking the deadlock in the 62nd minute to finally puncture the dogged resistance of the relegation-threatened visitors.
"It was clear that Messi had to play at least 45 minutes," added Valverde.
"We have a match on Wednesday and we must be active and at the end he has scored the goal because we already know that Leo scores goals everywhere."Published 28 Apr 2019, 03:30 IST