Barca more focused on winning title than resting players for Liverpool: Valverde

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Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has said his number one priority for now is to clinch the La Liga title on Saturday against Levante, ruling out resting players for next week’s Champions League semi-final clash with Liverpool.

Barca will get their hands on a 26th title if they beat Levante at the Nou Camp and could have the crown guaranteed before kickoff if Atletico Madrid loses to Real Valladolid earlier on.

The Catalans have not reached a Champions League final since 2015 but Valverde said turning up to Wednesday’s first leg against Juergen Klopp’s side at home knowing the league is in the bag could be more valuable than having fresh legs.

“We might make one or two changes but we have four days to rest before Liverpool and winning a trophy could give us more strength on Wednesday and could mean more to us than whether we are tired or not,” Valverde told a news conference on Friday.

“You always have something else in your head when you are playing but I want to separate the two things because of how important it is to win the league. We would like this to be the moment we seal it.”

Barca’s likely league triumph on Saturday would see them collect an eighth title in 11 years, but Valverde said no-one should take his side’s domestic hegemony for granted, adding that he considers the league to be the most important prize.

“We give a lot of value to the La Liga title, it’s the one you chase all year long, the one which defines your season,” he said.

“In the Copa del Rey and Champions League your success can depend on tiny margins and certain moments, but in the league you have to do things right in nearly every game if you want to win it.

“It has a lot of value and the fact that our club has won it so many times in this space of time says a lot about how hard we work each day.”