Gerard Pique claims the appointment of Gary Neville as head coach will be an “extra motivation” for the Valencia players ahead of their meeting with Barcelona.
England assistant coach Neville was presented as Valencia coach on Thursday but will watch from the stands this weekend, with Miguel Angulo and the former’s brother Phil installed as interim managers for the La Liga encounter.
Barca defender Pique has been impressed by the current form of Luis Enrique’s side, who top the table, having won their previous seven matches, scoring 28 goals and conceding only twice.
“Visiting Mestalla is always difficult and now that they have a new manager it will be an extra motivation for them. We want to continue our winning spirit,” the 28-year-old said ahead of Saturday’s match.
“We hope to maintain this level that we have been showing over the last month, playing very well, until the end of the season. Based on our results and the way we have been playing, we are in one of our best spells of the season.
He added: “We did not start as well as we did in the previous season and the fact we conceded so many goals indicated that we could have been doing things better. We collectively got our act together and have improved greatly.”
“We have conceded very few [goals] recently. Therefore, with the quality we have up front, if we can keep a clean sheet in almost all matches, it almost guarantees victory.”
Pique singled out Luis Suarez for praise, highlighting the Uruguayan forward’s clinical nature in front of goal.
“He is the best number nine in the world. He has proven it,” the Spain centre-back added.
“He has scored lots of goals and, on top of that, important ones in moments where we needed them.”