November 7, 2019 / 12:16 PM / 4 months ago

Soccer-Stuttering Barca host Celta with coach Valverde under pressure

MADRID, Nov 7 (Reuters) - La Liga leaders Barcelona go into this weekend looking to get back on track after failing to win their last two games against beatable opposition and with coach Ernesto Valverde under pressure.

Last weekend’s humbling 3-1 defeat to Levante was followed by a turgid 0-0 home draw against Slavia Prague in the Champions League, with fans voicing their displeasure throughout.

They welcome strugglers Celta Vigo on Saturday and Valverde believes the side can get back to winning ways just as quickly as they have stumbled of late.

Yet he admits they need to start winning again soon.

“It’s good that our fans ask a lot of us,” Valverde said.

“In football everything happens so quickly. Until a few days ago we were on a winning streak and now everything has flipped on its head in just one minute. If this can happen over the space of a few days, you can get out of it in that time too.

“In football nowadays, and with sides like ours, the only thing that counts is winning every game, and if you can do so by crushing the opponents, all the better. It’s never enough.”

Barca will be without injured duo Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba against Celta, who will play their first game under new coach, former Barcelona midfielder Oscar Garcia.

Real Madrid, who are level on 22 points with the Catalans, will be looking to put pressure on their great rivals when they face Eibar earlier on Saturday.

Fresh from hammering Galatasaray 6-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday, Real will be confident when they head to the Basque Country.

Yet they are likely to be without a host of first-team regulars including Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Marcelo, Marco Asensio and Nacho.

Forward Rodrygo, 18, has made the most of the absentees, scoring four in his last three appearances, including a Champions League hat-trick on Wednesday to make him the new darling of the Bernabeu.

“I’m not surprised the crowd have taken to him,” coach Zinedine Zidane said.

“He’s a player full of quality and he’s come here to do what he’s showing us he can do. We’re enjoying him and this is only the beginning. Hopefully he can carry on like this but we need to be calm.”

High-flying Real Sociedad have a chance to go top - temporarily at least - when they face Leganes on Friday.

Atletico Madrid, who are without a win in their last three in all competitions, host Espanyol on Sunday before Betis host Sevilla in what is always a feisty Seville derby. (Editing by Toby Davis)

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