Live Barcelona Blog: Carles Puyol credits Ernesto Valverde for unbeaten season

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Jay Asser and the rest of the Sport360 team are in place to provide you with the latest news, comment and analysis on all things Barcelona.

Our daily blog will ensure you have all the latest updates throughout the week but we want you to get involved, too.

Tell us your thoughts on what’s happening by tweeting @Sport360.

6:05pm – Club legend Puyol says Valverde’s hard work reason for unbeaten run

Barcelona are in the midst of a 41-game streak without a defeat in La Liga and former captain Carles Puyol believes Ernesto Valverde deserves much of the credit.

“Barcelona are having an amazing season. It’s the result of all the hard work that Valverde has done,” Puyol said.

“It’s a shame what happened in the Champions League but what they’re doing in the league this season is very good.”

Read Puyol’s full comments praising Valverde here.

Valverde

3:39pm – Suarez says Griezmann would be welcomed at Camp Nou

Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann has been heavily linked with Barcelona and according to Luis Suarez, the striker would be embraced at the Catalan club.

Speaking to Radio Uruguay, Suarez said: “He’s welcome [at Barcelona]. He’s not coming to take anyone’s place, but with the ambition to do big things with the best club in the world. I’m proud that Barca keep signing players of such quality.”

Check out Suarez’s full comments and more on the Griezmann situation here.

Griezmann

12:00pm – Barcelona attempt to end winless streak at home in El Clasico

Barcelona and Real Madrid will meet for the 238th time, with the Catalan club having won 93 and the Whites having taken 95 of those clashes.

However, Barcelona have lost the past three encounters at Camp Nou, which will host the sides on Sunday night in a contest that shouldn’t lack any excitement, even though the La Liga title has already been decided.

Check out more key stats head of the match-up here.

Messi

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Barcelona legend Xavi to extend his playing career until the end of year at least

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Legendary former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez has upset his own plans to retire and announced he will extend his career until at least the end of this year, he said on Sunday.

Widely expected to end his illustrious playing career at the end of this season, the World Cup champion and four-times Champions League winner told AFP he feels fit enough to continue playing a little longer.

“I have decided to continue at least six months more,” said the 38-year-old, who now plays for Qatari club Al Sadd.

Asked why he was playing on, he replied: “Because it depends on my physical condition. Maybe in December I decide to continue.”

The decision is unexpected as Xavi had signalled that the current season would be his last before he focuses on earning his coaching badges.

He even spoke about not being about not being able to cope with the physical demands of professional football.
But he has now had a change of heart.

Xavi, who won 133 caps for Spain, had been expected to take the reins at Al Sadd from next season and has been tipped to be the Qatar coach in 2022 when the Gulf state hosts the World Cup.

xavi

The announcement that he will continue playing comes almost two decades to the day he made his first team debut for Barcelona against Leida back in 1998 and became synonymous with the club’s tiki-taka style of play.

He went on to make more than 700 appearances for the Catalan giants, winning eight La Liga titles and 31 trophies in all, which was a record when he left Spanish football in 2015 to move to the Gulf.

Xavi had already extended his original two-year contract to play this season and remains the biggest name in the Qatari domestic league.

Although the league season has ended in Qatar – Al Sadd finished runners-up – Xavi is still involved in two cup competitions.

On Monday, Al Sadd play in Doha against Saudi Arabian side Al Ahli in the first leg of the AFC Champions League last 16.

Later this week, Al Sadd will also play in the semi-final of Qatar’s biggest domestic cup competition, the Emir Cup.

Xavi has so far added three more trophies to his collection while playing in the Gulf and is approaching playing 1,000 games throughout his long career.

Since being in Qatar he has also been named as a global ambassador for the 2022 World Cup.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Barcelona's unbeaten run is down to Ernesto Valverde's hard work, says Carles Puyol

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Iconic former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol believes the team’s unbeaten run is evidence that Ernesto Valverde’s hard work is paying off.

The Catalans have already wrapped up the La Liga title and are currently enjoying a 41-game run without defeat in the Spanish top-flight.

“Barcelona are having an amazing season. It’s the result of all the hard work that Valverde has done.

“It’s a shame what happened in the Champions League but what they’re doing in the league this season is very good.”

Barcelona take on Real Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday night as they attempt to defend their record-breaking unbeaten run and stretch it even further.

Puyol was at the duFC Champions Cup finals in Dubai and also gave his views on football in the UAE.

“Every time I come here, I’m surprised by the passion people have here for the sport.

“If they continue to play with this kind of passion, ambition and belief, then they’re going to improve a lot.”

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