Huesca coach Leo Franco has warned his La Liga newcomers they will come up against “the best player in the history of football” when they rub shoulders with Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
The Argentinian, who has guided last season’s Segunda Division runners-up to an unbeaten start in the top flight, has no doubts about the threat posed by his illustrious compatriot, but also the danger of underestimating his team-mates.
He told a press conference: “For me, he is the best player in the history of football. But if you put people around Leo, he can get past one, two, three…
“You have to be very attentive and the player who is marking him has to produce their best individual performance.
“But no individual player can be more important than the team. Right now I’m thinking in my head about their players and the truth is that they have everything. I would not know who to name.”
Huesca launched their season with a 2-1 win at Eibar and followed it up with Monday’s 2-2 draw at Athletic Bilbao in which they trailed 2-0 before scoring twice inside the final 19 minutes.
For that reason, Franco and his players will run out at the Nou Camp knowing they face the sternest of tests, but confident that they can make an impression.
The coach said: “We are going into a game against a major opponent and it is one of the most difficult games of the year.
“But we are also going to play with 11 players and we go there with a lot of faith and confidence, and with realism, knowing what we can do well and that we have to do it perfectly.”
Defending champions Barca followed up their 3-0 opening victory over Alaves with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Valladolid last Saturday and will be intent on preserving their 100 per cent record.
They have not lost a home league game since Alaves won at the Nou Camp in September 2016 and will be in no mood to surrender that record this weekend with arch-rivals Real Madrid having also taken maximum points from their first two fixtures.
Boss Ernesto Valverde said of the Huesca match: “They will front up to us and that will come as no surprise, as they will come here full of enthusiasm.
“They are unbeaten after playing at two difficult places, namely Ipurua and San Mames.”
Valverde has backed Ousmane Dembele to keep shining after the France forward scored the only goal of last weekend’s 1-0 triumph at Real Valladolid.
“He is working very hard and we hope he shows consistency throughout this season,” said Valverde.
According to reports, Real Madrid and Brazil legend Ronaldo has reached a deal to buy 51 per cent of La Liga club Real Valladolid.
El Norte de Castilla, a regional daily based in Valladolid has made the claim, citing “sources close to the operation.”
Ronaldo has reportedly paid €30 million with the deal set to be done next week.
“The Brazilian star reached an agreement with Carlos Suarez, owner of more than 60 per cent of the shares of the company, on Thursday evening,” the newspaper wrote.
Reports in the Spanish media have claimed Ronaldo was interested in Valladolid since the club won promotion back to the Spanish top flight.
The former striker has been impressed by the way the club operates. However, the takeover would not “lead to great changes in the club structure” and that Suarez would remain president and Sergio Gonzalez would still be head coach.
“Ronaldo does not want to be the visible head and prefers to stay in the background,” the newspaper wrote.