Former Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes Real Madrid are favourites to win LaLiga this season.

Valverde left Barca on top of the table, ahead of Los Blancos on goal difference, but the Catalans have since slipped three points back under new coach Quique Setien.

Collecting an award at the Bilbao International Foottball Summit, Valverde was asked for his pick to win the title and said: “Madrid are strong and very focused on LaLiga.”


Reflecting on his time at Camp Nou, he said: “I was incredibly fortunate to coach Barcelona. I know what it means to coach there and I am delighted to have been there. When you sign the contact, you know that you depend on results and that the coach is always responsible.”

And he added: “I don’t feel I was unfairly treated. I understand why you would ask that, but I try to turn over the page and not go back over things. I want to look forward.”

On what he will do next, the 56-year-old said: “I haven’t decided anything. Maybe a different experience. When [Andres] Iniesta told me he was going to Japan…”

Valverde was ultimately unable to recover at Barca from the two big Champions League defeats to Roma and Liverpool, which both saw the Catalans knocked out after throwing away big leads.

“For me, they are different,” he said. “In Rome, we didn’t get into the game and you think that with the players we had, we would be able to get through. And in Liverpool, when we started to play, they scored the goal we wanted to avoid.

“One goal would have given us the qualification and in a minute, they scored two goals. In the first leg, we suffered a lot, but we could have won by four. It is so hard to win the Champions League.”

 


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