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Barcelona must keep winning to avoid negative 'media noise' - Valverde

Published on: 26 September 2017

The FC crew discuss Barcelona's flying start and whether or not it's too early to call them favourites to win La Liga.

BARCELONA -- Ernesto Valverde downplayed the rising expectations at Barcelona which seven successive wins have brought, pointing out they were dubbed a "disaster" just one month ago after the Spanish Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid.

Since that 5-1 aggregate loss to Madrid, Barca have won all six of their opening La Liga matches and recorded an impressive 3-0 win against Juventus in the Champions League.

On Wednesday they take on Sporting Lisbon at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in search of an eighth consecutive victory in all competitions.

"At the start of the season people were saying we were a disaster; now we're winning games and it's all changed," Barca coach Valverde said in a news conference on Tuesday.

"That's not to say things won't change again next month. It's about focusing on the next game and not dwelling on the past.

"I know the media noise around Barcelona. If you win everything's good; if you lose it's the contrary. At the moment we're on a winning streak, but that doesn't mean we will win our upcoming games."

Like Barca, Sporting have enjoyed a good start to the season. They've won six of their opening seven league games, drawing the other, and opened the Champions League with an away win at Olympiakos.

"[Sporting] will be a difficult game; we need to keep winning and keep winning and make sure it's still good because if not [the reaction] will be different," Valverde added.

"They're a very strong team. They're very quick, so we will have to be careful with their wide players. They dominate the ball as well, so we need to try and take the initiative. If we can get control of the game, though, we will then have to be wary of them on the counter-attack, because they're dangerous there, too."

Apart from long-term absentees Rafinha and Ousmane Dembele, Valverde has a full squad to choose from for the game in Lisbon.

There could be a first start away from Camp Nou for summer signing Nelson Semedo, who is returning to his home city, where he spent the last five years with Benfica.

"I always like coming back to Portugal," the right-back said. "For me, to come here and to play against Benfica's rivals Sporting is more than a game and I am taking it on with a huge amount of responsibility."

However, despite being from the other side of the divide in Lisbon, Semedo would like to see Sporting progress at the expense of the other two teams in Group D, Juventus and Olympiakos.

"I'd like to qualify as group winners, but I'd also like Sporting to qualify in second," he added. "But we're going to work on our own targets, it's up for Sporting to achieve theirs."

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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Source: espn.co.uk

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