February 26, 2019 / 6:33 PM / 7 months ago

Valverde backs VAR despite controversial decisions

MADRID (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde backed the use of VAR (video assistant referee) even though rivals Real Madrid appeared to benefit from a controversial decision during their 2-1 win over Levante on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - FC Barcelona Press Conference - Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France - February 18, 2019 Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde during the press conference REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot

Real were awarded two penalties against Levante following VAR reviews, the second of which caused controversy as there appeared to be no contact on Casemiro as he went down in the area.

“There’s no panic surrounding VAR at all,” Valverde, whose side will face Real twice in four days this week, told a news conference.

“Controversy is always going to be there both in football and other sports and it’s more to do with people than the sport itself. We’ll look to win and forget about everything else.”

Real host Barcelona in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday, with the teams tied at 1-1, which will be Valverde’s 100th game in charge of the club. Three days later, Barcelona will again be at the Bernabeu for their La Liga fixture.

“I’d love to celebrate it by getting through to the (Copa) final. I didn’t know about the number, but it’s an important game. It’s a semi-final, a Clasico and an important match.

“It’ll be tough, the scoreline from the first leg isn’t what we’d like from the start, but it’s an open game and everything’s to play for. We know how good they and they’ll be looking to get through, just like we are.”

La Liga leaders Barca are seven points ahead of second placed Atletico Madrid and nine ahead of Real.

Despite the cushion, Valverde said Barca would not take their opponents lightly.

“League position doesn’t guarantee anything regarding tomorrow’s game,” he said.

“I’m not taking anything for granted. They’ll be ready and strong – it’s a Clasico and it’s a really important game. Stats mean nothing in games like these.

“It’s not normal to play two games of this magnitude in a week but these things happen. We’re focused on the first one. Both games are important but right now Saturday is far away.”

The 55-year-old also said he is waiting on the fitness of midfielder Arthur, who has been out for a month with a hamstring injury, and goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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