Valverde demands Barca solve their travelling woes
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde knows his side can ill afford to let their away struggles continue for much longer, but accepts Granada will give them no helping hand this weekend.
The defending champions have won both home matches this season 5-2, brushing aside the challenges of Real Betis and Valencia with ease, but have found life on the road less comfortable.
They have won just two of their last 10 competitive away matches and none of their last six, including a 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao and draws with newly-promoted Osasuna and Champions League opponents Borussia Dortmund this term.
Now they face a trip to another top-flight newcomer in Granada and Valverde admits things need to change if they are to mount a successful title defence.
He told a pre-match press conference: “Away from home we’ve not been getting good results up to now.
“It’s costing us because even in the game in Pamplona, when we overturned a deficit to lead, we weren’t able to win.
“We hope to change this dynamic and we hope it happens soon.
“On these grounds are championships decided.”
On paper, Granada should not pose Barcelona too much of a problem.
The Catalan giants have won 15 of the last 16 encounters between the two sides and were 4-1 victors on their last visit to the Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes.
However, the Andalusian side have enjoyed a good start to life on their return to LaLiga and are level with Barca on seven points after four games.
They have also scored nine times – a record only bettered by Barca and Villarreal – and Valverde has seen enough to be concerned.
He said: “They are having a good start to the season and the recently-promoted teams are dangerous. They have the positive momentum from going up.
“They are doing things well and for us it’s another problem. It’s a difficult game for us. Above all, because we haven’t won our two away games in LaLiga. We can’t slip up.”
Barca are set to be boosted by the return of all-time record goalscorer Lionel Messi, who could make his first league appearance of the season after coming off the bench in Dortmund.
That could spell bad news for Granada, who are looking to build on successive away wins over Espanyol and Celta Vigo.
Nevertheless, Granada coach Diego Martinez is preferring to look on the bright side of life back in the top flight, rather than what dangers may lie ahead this weekend.
He said: “Not even the most optimistic of our fans imagined we’d have seven points after four games.
“Facing Barca is not a problem, it’s a blessing considering that last September we were in the second division.”
His positivity was mirrored by Venezuelan midfielder Yangel Herrera, who said: “This team always goes out to compete, whoever we are playing.
“We know that Barca are a great team, and what they do, but if we work hard we can cause them damage.
“We’re optimistic about this match.”