Barcelona’s return to winning ways a homage to victims, says coach Ernesto Valverde
Catalans rally to secure win on emotional opening day of the new season
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde conceded it was vital for his side to help lift spirits in the Catalan capital by beating Real Betis 2-0 in their Primera Liga opener on Sunday.
Twin terrorist attacks on Thursday killed 14 people and wounded around 120 in Barcelona’s bustling Las Ramblas thoroughfare and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.
“Today was a special day in many ways,” Valverde said after his first league match in charge of the Spanish giants.
“We started La Liga, but we are aware of the importance of the events that took place this week in Barcelona and Cambrils.”
An emotional day at the Camp Nou was filled with tributes to those killed and injured in the most deadly terror attack on Spanish soil in 13 years.
A minute’s silence was held before kick-off, whilst Barcelona players wore black armbands and shirts with ‘Barcelona’ replacing individual names on the back.
On the field, Valverde’s reign got off to a difficult start with a 5-1 aggregate thrashing in the Spanish Super Cup at the hands of rivals Real Madrid.
However, despite the absence of the injured Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta, captain Lionel Messi inspired Barca to a comfortable win thanks to an Alin Tosca own goal and midfielder Sergi Roberto’s first La Liga goal.
“We know of the solidarity that has risen up not just here, but in all parts of the city,” added Valverde.
“We couldn’t let that down. I said yesterday our idea was to move forward, to give a feeling of normality.
“At the same time we wanted to honour all the victims of the attacks, albeit in our own way, by winning the game, and we will continue to think of them and our life here in Barcelona.”