Valverde refuses to blame Barcelona defence as unbeaten La Liga record goes up in smoke

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First defeat of the season in La Liga for Barcelona.

Ernesto Valverde refused to blame his defenders despite Barcelona‘s chances of becoming the first team to post an unbeaten La Liga season coming to an end with astonishing 5-4 defeat by Levante.

The hosts stormed into a 5-1 lead 11 minutes into the second half, with Barca’s centre-back pairing of Thomas Vermaelen and Yerry Mina in disarray.

Ghanaian Emmanuel Boateng plundered a hat-trick and Enis Bardhi struck twice before Phillippe Coutinho inspired a fightback by helping himself to three goals, with Luis Suarez claiming the fourth from the spot.

“We haven’t been solid, every time they attacked they scored,” Valverde said in quotes reported by Marca.

“It’s not normal for us to concede five goals. Levante have played well with freedom and we haven’t been able to control them.

“We went to sleep, thinking we could automatically lift our performance in the second half.

“Yerry Mina showed personality at certain moments of the match and I haven’t seen him make a mistake, you have to take into account how good our opponent was.”

Valverde said Belgian Vermaelen had been struggling with an injury, adding: “I substituted Vermaelen because I didn’t want him to be at even further risk.”

Skipper Andres Iniesta blamed a lack of organisation.

“We were excited by the prospect of finishing the season unbeaten,” he said.

“It’s not the most important thing this season – it just wasn’t to be.

“Above all, it was the tension and lack of organisation. This was especially clear at the beginning of the second half.

“They’ve been very effective on the counter-attack and have caught us out.”

The season-ending game against Real Sociedad will be the 34-year-old’s last as a Barcelona player.

“With every moment that it approaches, everything becomes that little bit more difficult,” the midfielder added.

“I will try to savour it, it’s the last game of the season and the fans will respond to support the team.

“I hope it will be a nice memory for me after so long.”

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Live Barcelona blog: Supercopa de Espana scheduling set to cause chaos

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

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

Barcelona travel to Levante on Sunday in La Liga.

13:20pm – Organisers could struggle to fit in Supercopa

Andres Iniesta shows off the Copa del Rey trophy.

Andres Iniesta shows off the Copa del Rey trophy.

It looks like Barca’s start to 2018/19 is going to be a complicated one.

Mundo Deportivo reports that their packed friendly list and Sevilla’s entrance into the Europa League qualifiers means that either the traditional August date for the Supercopa de Espana will have to go, or its two-legged format.

Here’s the story.

10:50am – Explosive Dembele backed to blow Levante apart

Barcelona's France forward Ousmane Dembele (l).

Barcelona’s France forward Ousmane Dembele (l).

Barcelona’s penultimate fixture of the campaign sees them protecting their historic unbeaten run at 16th-placed Levante.

France winger Ousmane Dembele is coming off a remarkable display in Wednesday’s 5-1 thrashing of Villarreal and our Alex Rea has backed him to repeat these feats in his talking points to preview Sunday’s clash.

Read it here.

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Barcelona reportedly set to face scheduling chaos with 2018/19 Supercopa de Espana

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Barcelona after their Copa del Rey win against Sevilla.

Sevilla’s entry into the Europa League preliminaries and Barcelona’s packed list of lucrative summer friendlies means that organisers face a headache fitting in the traditionally season-opening Supercopa de Espana, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The two clubs will contest next term’s showpiece because Barca won the La Liga and Copa del Rey-double – smashing Sevilla 5-0 in last month’s final as they painfully earned their berth.

To accommodate these two sides, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) look like they will have to give up either the event’s traditional time slot or its two-legged format.

Sevilla earned seventh spot and entry to the Europa’s second qualifying round with a 1-1 derby draw against Real Betis this weekend. This means they will have matches on July 26 and August 2, August 9 and 16, plus August 23 and 20 if they are to make the competition proper.

La Liga is scheduled to start on August 18 and 19, meaning the only plausible dates to play the Supercopa would be the weekends of August 4/5 and August 11/12. But Barca will fulfil the third-and-final fixture of their United States tour on August 4 against AC Milan in San Francisco.

As a result, the Federation must either make it a one-off clash on August 11/12, or move it to a suitable date outside August.

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