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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

'It's like The Great Escape with Steve McQueen. They catch him every time he tries to escape. I feel the same'

Ernesto Valverde compared trying to forget Barcelona’s shock defeat to Liverpool to The Great Escape.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde
Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde

ERNESTO VALVERDE INSISTS he has the full support of the Barcelona board, even though the aftermath of the shock defeat to Liverpool has left him feeling like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

The Catalans suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss at Anfield on Tuesday, which sent them crashing out of the Champions League semi-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

Their 3-0 lead from the first leg had put them in a commanding position, but, as they did in the quarter-final with Roma last season, Barca collapsed in the return fixture to see their treble challenge come to an end.

The result has led to serious questions about Valverde’s future as head coach, despite him guiding Barca to the La Liga title and a Copa del Rey final with Valencia.

The former Athletic Bilbao boss has compared trying to forget the Liverpool game to McQueen’s character’s persistent efforts to escape a Nazi prisoner of war camp in the famous 1963 film, but made it clear he does not feel his position is under threat.

Liverpool v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Anfield Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League by Liverpool this week. Source: Peter Byrne

“Yes, as always,” he told a news conference on Saturday when asked if he had president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s support. ”I spoke with the president and I have always felt supported by the club. There’s a lot of talk when there’s a blow like that. Everyone staggers.”

When asked how he feels on a personal level, Valverde replied: “It’s like in the film The Great Escape, with Steve McQueen. They catch him every time he tries to escape. I feel the same – it’s like they throw me back in the cell every time I try to forget.

“But I want to play the game against Getafe [on Sunday]. You don’t stop thinking about what happened and why it happened.

“I feel I have the strength to continue. I’m okay, and I want to take a step forward, not hide under a stone.”

Valverde admits it will be a challenge to lift his players for the league match with Champions League-chasing Getafe at Camp Nou given the manner of their loss in England.

SOCCER: APR 02 La Liga - Villarreal CF at FC Barcelona Valverde won the double last year and could match that achievement again this season. Source: Carlos Sanchez Martinez

“I’ve not seen the game, but I have it clearly in my mind,” he said. “We knew we had to start strong and not concede, and we conceded, but we regrouped. In the second half, the two goals knocked us down onto the canvas. We tried to recover and then an absurd goal happened.

“We’re hurting, I won’t deny it. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our fans. We can lose a tie, a semi-final with Liverpool, because they are a great team. The problem is how we lost, as we allowed a comeback from such a favourable position.

“It’s hard. It seems like the legs are a little heavier now. What was flowing before now looks different. We have to overcome that.”

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