Barcelona’s Valverde says players not distracted by crisis

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PIRAEUS, Greece (AP) Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde insists his players have not been distracted by the events taking place in Catalonia.

Speaking ahead of the team’s Champions League match against Olympiakos, Valverde says, “We can see what’s happening but we are concentrated on our own task. That’s to win matches and make the fans happy.”

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Lawmakers in Catalonia’s parliament declared independence from Spain last week following a disputed referendum that triggered a constitutional crisis. Some Barcelona fans have been vocal in their support for independence during matches.

Barcelona is playing the Greek champion at Karaiskakis Stadium on Tuesday. Valverde received an emotional welcome from fans of his former team. He says it will be a “special game” for him.