Vilanova retains faith in Valdes
Tito Vilanova has backed under-fire goalkeeper Victor Valdes as the Barcelona coach looked forward to Sunday's clash with Osasuna.
The Catalan giants go into the encounter following the 3-2 first-leg win of their Super Cup tie against Real Madrid, but their task of lifting the first domestic silverware of the season has been made more difficult because of Valdes' error, which gifted the capital side a late second goal.
However, speaking at a press conference, Vilanova insisted Valdes' error has been blown out of proportion and reminded critics of the goalkeeper's role in helping the side to three successive Liga crowns between 2009 and 2011.
"It surprises me that Victor is being doubted, even though we have won three Liga titles thanks to him," the Barca coach said.
"I have seen him play very well so far this season; he is very strong mentally."
Vilanova also leaped to the defence of winger Alexis Sanchez, who struggled to exert much influence on proceedings at Camp Nou last Thursday.
"I agree that he did not play well the other day, but he did the things that we asked of him and really helped us," he added.
"Perhaps he lacked a ruthless edge, but I'm sure he will do very well this season."
Regarding Sunday's trip to Pamplona, Vilanova acknowledged the pitfalls that face his side, as he cast his mind back to last season's 3-2 defeat at the Reyno de Navarra, for which he was assistant to former coach Pep Guardiola.
"It is a complicated match because they are a closely-knit team," he mused.
"My players have been warned of the dangers Osasuna pose and they know that last year we threw away the league at this venue."
Vilanova could hand a debut to Alex Song in Sunday's encounter, but he warned the former Arsenal man may need some extra time to build his sharpness before turning out for his side, who started their league campaign with victory over Real Sociedad last weekend.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid will look to bounce straight back from that narrow defeat to Barca when they take on neighbours Getafe.
Madrid were in sparkling form in pre-season, putting five goals passed AC Milan in one game, but the first two games of the new campaign have not gone to plan.
That 3-2 defeat to Barcelona followed a disappointing 1-1 draw against Valencia in their opening league match.
And head coach Jose Mourinho knows there next encounter won't be easy either.
"I've only seen the match against Sevilla and I liked it. It's nothing new, I like the coach, I like how he organises the team," Mourinho said.
"I like his ideas and how he puts them into practice. I admire the job he has done. I think it is a balanced team. From the time that I have been here, I always have had tough games in Getafe and tomorrow will be difficult as well."-
Valencia head coach Mauricio Pellegrino said his side now are focused on getting their first win of the season.
Valencia, who finished third in La Liga last season, face Deportivo La Coruna.
"Our goal is always the same. Now we are thinking about winning tomorrow and I hope the team achieve the best position possible in the league. This is my goal and will be at the end of the season," Pellegrino said.
Deportivo began their season in impressive fashion in beating Osasuna 2-0 last weekend and will hope to continue that form at the Mestalla.
Sunday's only other game sees Granada host Sevilla.