Messi Backs Under-fire Barca Boss Valverde

Lionel Messi wants Ernesto Valverde to continue as Barcelona coach but admits the team have not recovered from their embarrassing Champions League loss to Liverpool as they face Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.

After winning La Liga by 11 points, Barca can complete a domestic double by beating Valencia in Seville, but even that will not erase the disappointment of throwing away a three-goal lead at Anfield.

Valverde conceded his future was uncertain after the loss but the club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has since said the coach will remain in charge.

“I honestly believe the boss has done an impressive job during his time in charge,” Messi said at a press conference on Friday.

“I think that in the defeat to Liverpool, he is practically blameless, we are the only ones to blame for that match.

“That can happen one year. but two years in a row is unforgivable. The boss will obviously be partly to blame but it is the players even more.

“I would like him to continue. Last year, we did the double and even though it was stained by getting knocked out of the Champions League, this year we can win the double again.

“If you look at his two years, there have been two bad games, but beyond those the rest has been good.”

Valverde was also asked again about his future.

“I have no complaints from the president or the board,” said Valverde, who added: “You seem very worried, don’t worry so much.”

Barcelona were desperate to win the Champions League, after failing to reach the final in four consecutive years while also watching Real Madrid lift the trophy three times in a row.

Since losing to Liverpool, Valverde’s team have beaten Getafe 2-0 at Camp Nou before ending the league season with a 2-2 draw away at Eibar on Sunday.

The Catalans are chasing a record fifth consecutive Copa del Rey triumph to go with their eight La Liga titles in the last 11 years.

“After a bump so big we have to face things with integrity,” said Valverde.

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