28 October 2022

Gattuso: "Tomorrow we will have 45,000 people in the stadium and that has to give us strength"

The coach speaks ahead of Valencia CF’s game against FC Barcelona

Gennaro Gattuso’s Valencia CF face FC Barcelona in Saturday’s headline attraction in LaLiga, and the coach previewed the game in a Friday press conference.

How do you plan to adjust the defence and midfield taking into account the absentees?

Comert is fine. I think we have problems in midfield, but not in defence. We have only lost Diakhaby. In midfield we have lost Moriba, Musah is suspended and Nico cannot play due to the terms of his loan deal. We have 2-3 players for the midfield and we hope to have a great game.

Does Foulquier have a chance of playing tomorrow in the middle?

We'll look into it, but I don't know. Today we have worked on how we will play against FC Barcelona and we must assess whether he can play in midfield or as sweeper.

Is there a change in style to stop FC Barcelona?

I like to keep our style, but let's see how Barcelona play and the players they have. We have to respect them, but the style and mentality of my team is not going to change.

Tomorrow is a special match. Do you want to experience everything that surrounds it?

Mestalla always has a great atmosphere. I think that tomorrow we will have 45,000 people in the stadium and that has to give us strength. However, in all the games that we've played at Mestalla, including the friendly, the supporters have been great. I’m very proud of the support from the fans and I hope that the game we have tomorrow will make the fans proud too.

Are you looking at a change of formation?

Foulquier already played like a sweeper in Seville. When we had the ball he played as a third striker and when we didn't have it he helped our defence, playing kind of as a winger. This is a possible modification when we play against a team with many skilful players.

Could tomorrow's game have extra motivation for Barça, knowing that they have to focus on LaLiga?

I like to talk about my own team. I know that we are seeing two different versions of FC Barcelona. In LaLiga they are scoring a lot of goals, conceding few, and playing incredible football, but in Europe it’s different. I think they have very talented young players and it will be a difficult match.

We are seeing a Valencia CF that suffer a lot in the second half when they don't have the ball. How can this be counteracted?

We have to work hard. We have talked a lot this week, because in the 11 games we have led in 8. This is not a matter of luck. We must improve this data. We can see that what we are doing is not enough. The game doesn't end after 45 or 60 minutes.

I believe a lot in this team and I have a lot of faith in them. The other day, many of you said that I was sad and it's normal. We have lost incredible games and we have to improve that. Looking at how we have played, we should have 19-20 points, but we only have 15. I think we need to work and talk about how to improve this statistic.

What do you say to a team that lacks experience ahead of this type of match?

We have to stop talking about experience. FC Barcelona also have young players. It is a very easy excuse to talk about experience. It is very easy for me to come here and talk about experience.

We are a young team, but we have a lot of quality and we can perform at a very high level in the coming years. I don't like this excuse of lack of experience. We must talk about what is happening and do more of what we are doing.

The other day you said that the problem of the last 30 minutes of the game was killing you.

It keeps killing me. A coach is a lonely man. Many times, I have thought of putting five at the back to hold the result when we were ahead, but that does not guarantee that you win. Playing more defensively does not ensure you win a game.

Right now, we have to move on. We only have one possible path, which is hard work, and we should talk as little as possible.

Have you found any solution beyond changing the mentality?

When I played for AC Milan, we had problems with set pieces for two years. Everybody was talking about this. But when this is talked about a lot it is difficult to improve it.

We have to improve and not think that we have little experience. The priority right now is that the game ends at 95 or 100 minutes for us, and not at 65 or 70 minutes.

This will be the first time that you have faced Xavi as a coach.

I am very happy to meet Xavi again. For years, he played and I ran a lot. When playing against FC Barcelona it was difficult to get the ball back. We were playing two totally different sports. He is a great coach and he is going to have a great career. I respect and appreciate him. He is very clever. It is a pleasure and an honour to face him tomorrow.

Yesterday we had the news of the attack in Italy in which one of the injured was the Valencian player Pablo Marí. He was with his family.

I am very sorry for him. I saw him yesterday. A boy who worked in the supermarket has died. Pablo Marí's surgery is over and he should be quiet for a few months. I wish him a speedy recovery and good luck to him and his family.

What do you think about a striker like Villa?

Villa was on a different level. I am very happy that tomorrow he will have a party at Mestalla. He is a striker who has played many times for the Spanish national team and has scored many goals.

For me and for my team it will be an honour to greet him because he has been a player who has delighted people for many years with his quality and his goals.

If you were afraid against the bottom-placed team, what feeling do you have against FC Barcelona?

All games scare me. I think that in LaLiga it is not easy to play against any team. Everyone thinks that Barcelona are going to win easily. Against Athletic they killed the game off in 25 minutes, and they have also done that with other teams.

We have to respect every team, but we start at 0-0 and it’s 11 against 11. They have high-quality players, but we have to play the game.

Have you talked with the central defenders about stopping Lewandowski?

The problem is not just Lewandowski. He is a great striker, but FC Barcelona have many more quality players, who can score goals and who play incredible football.

What do you say to the dressing room before matches like you have tomorrow?

There is little to talk about for this type of game. Many FC Barcelona players trained for the last four days. At the moment, we only have Ilaix and Diakhaby out due to injury. The rest are fine.have won a lot. The game prepares itself. It is more difficult to prepare for a match against a small team.

How are Castillejo and Cömert doing?

Comert is fine. He has only missed three training sessions. Castillejo is also doing well and has trained for the lst four days. At the moment we only have Ilaix and Diakhaby out due to injury. The rest are fine.

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