Ernesto Valverde praises Barcelona in Messi absence

Ernesto Valverde Barcelona

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has been pleased with the way his side have coped without star forward Lionel Messi.

Messi sustained a broken arm in the 4-2 win over Sevilla earlier in October and has missed the last two games for the Catalan giants. Barcelona managed a 2-0 win over Inter Milan and then thrashed Real Madrid 5-1 in El Clasico despite being without the Argentina international.

Valverde admits he was concerned at how the Camp Nou club would cope without Messi, particularly with what looked like some tough fixtures on paper, and he has been delighted with their recent performances.

“It was an extremely difficult week with Leo’s absence and our run of fixtures,” Valverde told reporters in Spain. “I’m really proud of the team in that time period because we found a really strong dynamic with the team and discovered a good rhythm.

“Winning El Clasico? I thought it would give me superpowers! But no, I feel normal, the same as last week but of course a little happier because it was a fantastic result.”

Barcelona, who are 1.30 to win La Liga outright, will still be missing Messi when they head to Rayo Vallecano on Saturday and they are 1.70 to win with a -1 handicap.

Rayo can be backed at 10.00 to come out on top and a draw is available at 5.50.

It remains to be seen as to whether or not Messi will be fit in time for Barca’s Champions League trip to Inter on November 6, but he should be available for the fixture at title rivals Atletico Madrid later this month.

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