In a week where Pep Guardiola was lauded for lifting another title in his trophy-laden career; one of his successors feels he’s not getting his fair share of plaudits.
Current Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde could be on the verge of the Catalan outfit's greatest title win to date; but feels the lack of a realistic challenger is actually undermining his side in the press.
Barcelona remain unbeaten in La Liga under Valverde, heading into this week 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid in second place. With just six fixtures remaining, Barcelona need just seven points to secure their 25th La Liga title.
They are currently in the midst of La Liga’s longest ever unbeaten run, stretching back to the start of April last year. Barcelona are on course to become the first ever La Liga side to go an entire campaign unbeaten and could also equal a league record, 100 points total.
Yet contrary to Pep, now of Manchester City, Valverde believes his players aren’t getting the credit they deserve for a magnificent campaign. With the local media, choosing instead to focus on their recent shock Champions League departure at the hands of Roma.
It seems the players echo the sentiment of their manager, with Luis Suarez been quoted by Sport as saying: “It was normal that after what happened in the Champions League [but] now it seems that winning the league has no merit.”
Speaking to ESPN, Valverde added: "Maybe it's [because of] the position we're in, if we were second, one point off the leaders, they would be giving a lot more value to [winning] the league title."
Barcelona are gearing up for an important week as they take on Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final this weekend, after a tricky league encounter at Celta Vigo. Valverde was accused of not balancing his squad after the Champions League exit. This week could provide a real test for Barcelona then as they look to maintain the run, and complete the double.
Valverde is under no delusions of the magnitude of the task ahead, with Barcelona having lost
4-3 and 4-1 in their last two visits to Balaídos.
"Our first objective is to win La Liga," Valverde added. "But if we can do it without losing, that would be great because no one has ever managed to do that. We know that it's so difficult, so difficult, though, and that's why no one has done it.
"It's exciting, but so is the double, which we also have a chance of winning. But I want to say: we have not achieved anything yet. Let's see if we can take another step forward against Celta."
He added: "(Celta boss) Unzue knows our players and he knows what Celta have done to do damage to Barca in recent years, in that sense, it's an advantage for them and it could condition the game.”
With Barcelona heading towards their seventh title in ten years, Valverde may well be paying the price for the success of predecessors Guardiola and Luis Enrique. The team are still on the verge of creating history though and can take one step closer to the land of invincibles with a win over Celta.