The Spanish champions had to come from behind after Pablo Sarabia scored after just nine minutes, but managed to level the game before half-time when Gerard Pique fired a rebound off a Lionel Messi free-kick.
But it was Dembele’s stunner into the top corner in the 78th minute which gave Barcelona the hard-fought 2-1 victory and left Valverde happy with his team’s performance.
“We need a bit of shooting practice, but we are happy because in spite of everything, we have beaten a great rival,” Valverde told the club’s official website.
“We fell behind and that cost us, but we got better as the game went on.
“He (Dembele) is a player with great qualities and today has left us with something to be happy about in a difficult match.”
The drama continued throughout the match, with Sevilla having plenty of chances to find a second goal, but a missed penalty from substitute Wissam Ben Yedder in the 90th minute secured the win for Barca.
“The most complicated thing when you play against a super team is that you have to compete, that means making it difficult for the opponent with all your weapons. We’ve done it, Sevilla boss Pablo Machin told a press conference.
“We were ahead many minutes and when we were behind, we were able to come back and the penalty came and if we scored the penalty, we multiplied the options.
“We could have won the game, but we did not score that penalty and Barca became the champions.”
The Belgian will start from the bench but is expected to feature in the second half in place of Keylor Navas.
Casemiro, Raphael Varane, Marcelo and Toni Kroos all start, with Inter Milan target Luka Modric on the bench.
Meanwhile, Gonzalo Higuain makes his bow in a Milan jersey after joining from Juventus on loan earlier this month.
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Asensio
Milan: Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Higuain, Borini
Club football is quickly upon us. A summer which has not been short on action thanks to the World Cup is coming to an end, in the footballing sense, with the return of football to Europe’s biggest leagues.
With most clubs now certain on their targets for the season, and the make-up of most squads largely determined at this point, all eyes will be on the men on the sidelines as they look to lead their teams to glory.
Here are the five managers under the most pressure before a ball’s even been kicked this season.
JOSE MOURINHO (MANCHESTER UNITED)
No manager enters the season under more pressure than the man in charge at United. Guiding the side to their best finish of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era lost its sheen when it involved ending up in second, 19 points behind the league winners. That those winners were Manchester City only added to the hollowness of that finish.
Mourinho needs to deliver a major trophy this season. Premier League would be best – as much as the Champions League remains the holy grail for any top European club, England’s most successful club doesn’t want a long absence from the top of the table at home. Add to the sense Mourinho’s style is antagonising some of United’s players and holding them back, plus his traditional third-season struggles, and the decorated manager has something to prove.
JULEN LOPETEGUI (REAL MADRID)
Taking over Real Madrid is never easy. Doing it in a contentious manner which destabilises the national team – and kills your own dream of managing your country at a World Cup – makes it harder. And having to follow a club legend who won three straight Champions League titles is impossible.
But none of that makes Julen Lopetegui’s job as hard as the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo. Lopetegui would probably back himself to get Madrid playing to a system which would negate the loss of the player himself, but the pressure of being the first manager of the post-Ronaldo era is something else. The Spaniard has a big job ahead of him.
MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI (JUVENTUS)
Allegri may have won the Serie A title for four seasons running with Juventus, but having Ronaldo in your team changes the equation. It’s obvious the transfer was made with the Champions League in mind. Juve have lost two finals in the competition under Allegri, and now they have a player who can take them over the hump.
Not to mention, Ronaldo’s chase for more Ballon d’Or awards will put pressure on Allegri and the rest of the team to match his levels. The player himself will be under pressure as well, but the onus is now on the Italian to maximise the remainder of Ronaldo’s prime years.
LUCIANO SPALLETTI (INTER MILAN)
Inter Milan have backed Spalletti in the transfer market. Radja Nainggolan from Roma is the headline arrival, but the incomings also include right-back Sime Vrsaljko, coming off a good season at Atletico Madrid, and promising Argentine youngster Lautaro Martinez.
The beast that is Juventus will be hard to slay, but Inter are perhaps best-equipped to challenge the reigning champions. At the very least, Spalletti can’t afford another season where Champions League football is only secured thanks to a final-day miracle.
NIKO KOVAC (BAYERN MUNICH)
Kovac has done the required apprenticeship to take over the reigns at Bayern Munich, impressing at Eintracht Frankfurt. But he wasn’t the man the pundits had backed for the job, with Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann having been installed as the favourite. Kovac will have to justify the faith the club have shown in him.
At the same time, he also needs to figure out how he’s going to replenish a side that has a few key players nearing 30 – Jerome Boateng, Robert Lewandowski, and Mats Hummels are all 29 – and others, like Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery, who are nearing the end of their careers.
Trying to manage those egos while blooding the likes of Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka, and Kingsley Coman – already disgruntled with reduced playing time last season – will be a challenge.