LaLiga: Barcelona look to clinch second successive title against Levante ahead of Champions League business end
Clinching La Liga before their Champions League semi-final with Liverpool would give Barcelona a 'very powerful' boost, coach Ernesto Valverde said on Friday.
Barcelona: Clinching La Liga before their Champions League semi-final with Liverpool would give Barcelona a "very powerful" boost, coach Ernesto Valverde said on Friday.
The runaway Spanish league leaders are nine points clear with four games to play.
They will seal the title if Atletico Madrid lose on Saturday afternoon or if they beat visiting Levante in the evening. If both games are drawn, that would also be enough for Barcelona ahead of Liverpool's first-leg visit on Wednesday.
Valverde admitted that he might rotate some players, but, he added, "we have four days until the Liverpool game and I know that winning tomorrow with what it means to win a title is something very powerful looking ahead to Wednesday's game, much more than any fatigue we may suffer."
The Barcelona coach said that it would be impossible for his players to put the Liverpool game entirely out of their minds when they face struggling Levante.
"You will always have something in your head," he said. "But I want to set that apart, especially because of the importance I give tomorrow's game. We would like it to be the exclamation point on the league."
This would be an eight title in 11 seasons for Barcelona.
"The fact that our club has won so many in this space of time, says a lot about how seriously we take it," he said.
But it would be the first time since 2011 that Barcelona have clinched the title at home.
"We have the opportunity to win the title, to be able to celebrate it with our fans, and that is an incentive and no one wants to lose."
Traditionally, the Liga champions have had to wait to receive the trophy.
This year that might change. Spanish media has reported both that the Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales will be at Camp Nou, ready to make a presentation if Barcelona clinch the title, and that he won't, out of respect to Levante.
"I hope that tomorrow the president of the federation has work to do," said Valverde.
"It would be nice. It has never been done in La Liga, that a team receives the trophy when it wins, as happens in other leagues."
"We give a lot of value to the league title, which is what the 20 teams were all pursuing from the start," Valverde said.
"We know that there are other trophies, like the Spanish cup or the Champions League, that depend on specific moments," he said. "In La Liga, on the other hand, you always have to hit the target or miss it only very rarely."
Fixtures (times IST)
Athletic Bilbao v Alaves (1630), Atletico Madrid v Real Valladolid (1945), Leganes v Celta Vigo (2200)
Barcelona v Levante (0015), Valencia v Eibar (1530), Girona v Sevilla (1730), Real Sociedad v Getafe (1945), Villarreal v Huesca (2200)
Rayo Vallecano v Real Madrid (0015)
Real Betis v Espanyol (0030)
The derby had been surrounded by controversy after Vinicius' dances during recent goal celebrations were criticised by a guest in a popular sports talk show who used racist language.
After beating Real Mallorca, Barcelona, at the top of the LaLiga table, are one point clear of Real Madrid, who host Osasuna on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid visit Sevilla's Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan on Saturday looking for a vital win to try and keep a grasp on the league frontrunners' coattails