Ernesto Valverde has admitted that Barcelona were hoping to avoid La Liga counterparts Real Madrid and Sevilla in the Champions League draw, yet doesn’t believe that La Blaugrana have been matched with easy opponents having done so, per Diario AS.
The Catalan side moved past Antonio Conte’s Chelsea on Wednesday, following up their 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last month with a 3-0 victory to progress with a 4-1 aggregate scoreline. And they are now set to face Serie A side Roma, who have made it to the quarter-final as well, following an impressive European campaign.
The Italian outfit topped their group last year, despite being matched with both Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. And Valverde has urged his players to err on the side of caution when the sides meet in the first leg of the tie on April 4.
He insists that he was keen to avoid getting drawn with Madrid and Sevilla because the teams are familiar with each other. However, he does appreciate that Roma will pose a huge threat too.
“Saying that there are easy draws in the quarter-finals is dangerous,” the manager said in his press conference ahead of his side’s clash with Athletic Club on Sunday.
“We didn’t want to play against Real Madrid or Sevilla because we know each other well. Italian teams are always dangerous, and Roma beat Chelsea and finished ahead of Atlético in the group stage.
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“They have a lot of potential. There are many reasons why it won’t be easy: their progress, their trainer, Monchi. Many reasons.”
Barca will hope to extend on their eight-point lead atop the Primera Division table on Sunday, with second-placed Atletico Madrid set to face Villarreal away. A win for the leaders, coupled with an Atletico loss, could all but wrap up the title race in Spain before Monday.