January 24, 2020 / 4:28 PM / a month ago

Valencia test excites Barca coach Setien

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Granada - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - January 19, 2020 Barcelona coach Quique Setien before the match REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Quique Setien can expect the toughest test of his short tenure in charge of the Spanish champions when they visit Valencia on Saturday in La Liga, although he believes facing a tougher opponent could play into his side’s hands.

Setien has been brought to Barca to impose a brand of possession-based play loyal to the ideas of their former player and manager Johan Cruyff but his first two outings have been underwhelming due to the negative tactics of their opponents.

The Catalans beat Granada 1-0 last week after their opponents had been reduced to 10 men while they were behind for most of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey tie at lowly Ibiza until two late strikes from Antoine Griezmann gave them a 2-1 win.

Setien expects a more ambitious game plan from Valencia, who have not beaten the Catalans at their Mestalla ground since 2007 and are smarting from a heavy 4-1 defeat at Mallorca, but trusts his team to take advantage.

“When a team like Valencia loses they are always more eager to win the next game and I will expect the best of Valencia, who are a top team with top players,” Setien told a news conference.

“It will be a high class game in which we’ll have the chance to cause more damage. We will try to take advantage of the spaces that they will open for us, which will perhaps be greater than in the other two games.”

Valencia will be boosted by the return of striker Rodrigo Moreno from injury as reports gather pace that Barca are keen to sign the Spain international to compensate for the absence of Luis Suarez, who is out for the next four months.

“I like Rodrigo a lot, just as I like all the great players,” added Setien.

“He is an extraordinary player and he can make any opponent’s life complicated. I’d prefer that he wasn’t playing against us but with or without Rodrigo, Valencia are a very dangerous team.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis

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