February 28, 2018 / 4:53 PM / 3 months ago

Barca being harmed by fixture schedule, says Valverde

MADRID (Reuters) - Barcelona have been “harmed” by this week’s La Liga fixture schedule, coach Ernesto Valverde said on Wednesday.

Soccer Football - Champions League Round of 16 First Leg - Chelsea vs FC Barcelona - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - February 20, 2018 Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde before the match Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

Barca, who sit seven points above nearest rivals Atletico Madrid in the table, visit Las Palmas on Thursday on the island of Gran Canaria, a three-and-a-half-hour flight from mainland Spain.

Three days later they host second-placed Atletico in a potentially pivotal tie in the title race.

“In this set of fixtures we’re being harmed by the schedule, yes,” Valverde told a news conference.

“We know that sometimes the decisions are influenced by things not necessarily from a sporting perspective,” he added in a comment seemingly aimed at the role of television broadcasters in fixture scheduling.

Atletico face local rivals Leganes at home on Wednesday and the Barca coach feels that could work in favour of Diego Simeone’s side when the top two meet on Sunday.

“We’re harmed because we play tomorrow at nine in the evening and Atleti, who we’ll face with the type of side they are and with their style, play today (Wednesday). There’s the fact we will have a day less rest and the travel involved, too.

“Obviously, that’s not Atletico’s fault. We need to just get on with it and move forwards.”

Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli; Editing by Toby Davis

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