A mouthwatering clash between Barcelona and Italian giants AS Roma at the Camp Nou tonight won’t be enough to seal the deal, but will be an entire two legged affair according to Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde speaking to the press ahead of the game.
Holding the first leg in Catalonia on Wednesday night gives the Azulgrana a big chance to open up a lead over their Italian opponents but the coach is expecting to have to finish the job at the Stadio Olimpico to reach the final four.
"I doubt very much that the tie will be won in the first leg," he told the assembled press on Tuesday. "Given the level of our opponents, it would be useful not to concede and still win, but we are aware that playing a good match won't be enough. “Watching their group games, it wasn't a surprise that Roma were top, nor is it a surprise that they are in the quarter-finals. "They play to attack and defend with solidarity."We will have difficulty progressing. It is an attractive knockout tie. "We face it with enthusiasm and a 50 percent chance of winning, just like them."
Messi is set to make the starting lineup for Barcelona and Valverde gave an update on his only other injury worry, Sergio Busquets, ahead of the encounter.
"Yesterday [Busquets] trained and played an important part," he added. "And we think that today he will be fine and that tomorrow he will be even better. “He is important for us and the national team. We hope to have him back. “We are talking about players with such specific and strong characteristics that when they aren't playing, you miss them. “Messi and Busquets are fundamental."
Roma have surprised many football fans to reach the quarter-finals and are considered underdogs among the entire quarterfinalist almost universally; however the former Athletic Bilbao boss doesn't feel as though it is his side with more to lose.
"We have nothing to lose because we haven't won anything," said Valverde. "I don't think that Roma are being belittled inside our dressing room. "It seems that this game has already been won by our name, but it isn't like that. "Roma have a good positional game, they try to carry the weight of the game, their strategy is strong and they develop pressure well. Also, they are very offensive, so we will have to defend well."
Instead, Valverde considers this an opportunity to take a step towards a major title and insists that the prospect motivates his players rather than pressurises them.
"We are very excited to win something," the Spaniard stated. “We haven't won anything yet. "We want to have the chance to win everything we can. The truth is that we have a lot of enthusiasm this season, to try and win titles."