Dembele-Coutinho situation: Barcelona’s manager Ousmane Dembele has sent a message to the Barca star duo ahead of El Clasico.
Barcelona are seemingly back to winning ways with two consecutive victories since the end of the international break last week. The Catalans defeated Sevilla 4-2, and cruised past Italian side Inter Milan 2-0 in the Champions League encounter this week.
However, Barca faces a tough test later tonight as they host the first El Clasico of the season. Barcelona are currently 2nd in the league, with Atletico Madrid overtaking them yesterday with a win over Real Sociedad.
However, Valverde’s side has scored only 18 points from 9 games so far. Real Madrid, on the other hand, are at 8th in the league, and a loss in the El Clasico could well be the final nail in the coffin for Lopetegui’s stay as manager, according to various reports from Spain.
Barcelona are without the services of their superstar Lionel Messi, and Ernesto Valverde has now given a message to his two star attackers, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.
Both the attackers are expected to assume significant offensive responsibilities in the absence of Lionel Messi. However, Ousmane Dembele’s off-the-pitch behavior has not gone down well with the manager, as well as some of the Barcelona stars.
The Frenchman reportedly arrived late for the game against Inter Milan, and was subsequently forced to watch the whole game from the sidelines. Ernesto Valverde preferred Rafinha Alcantara, and he impressed the boss with a goal early in the first half.
Valverde: The Clasico existed before Messi and Ronaldo. There were pigs’ heads flying, there was tension. The Clasico is always the Clasico.
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) October 27, 2018
“Arriving late one day has no importance,” Valverde said. “I’m focused on the sporting aspect.
“He arrived late the other day? I don’t know, he was there when I gave the talk. [But] We have to help Dembele, he’s young but we also demand a lot from him,” the Barcelona coach said.
“Everyone can lose the ball, the question is what you do after losing it,” Valverde added.
Barcelona believe that Ousmane Dembele has a big future at the club but acknowledge the forward needs to make certain lifestyle changes in order to make it at the top level. [ESPN] pic.twitter.com/LVeKhyUC5B
— Blaugrana Nation (@Blaugranarealm) October 26, 2018
Coutinho has been in fine form, but Valverde has insisted that the Brazilian footballer can do more.
“Coutinho did take a step forward without Messi against Inter,” said Valverde.
It’s El Clasico day!!
Who makes your combined 11?
Given Madrid’s poor form and Messi’s injury here’s who we would go with.
GK – Ter Stegen
DEF – Marcelo, Pique, Ramos, Semedo
MID – Rakitic, Busquets, Modric
FWD – Coutinho, Suarez, Bale pic.twitter.com/uCdY3ZLgsG
— Betin (@BetinKenya) October 28, 2018
“He is a constant threat with his shot, he can appear at any moment, he can play between the lines. But we know that he can still offer us more.”
Barcelona will aim to regain the top spot as they host Real Madrid tonight. The pressure is mounting on Julen Lopetegui to deliver a result tonight, and we can expect an intense game, even without the presence of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.