Barnsley v Norwich City - Reds welcome a champion challenge

A REUNION with good friend Daniel Farke is not the only thing that is timely as far as Valerien Ismael is concerned today.

As far as preparation goes for the start of Barnsley’s play-off adventure on Monday week, a home game against an outstanding Norwich side who have shown Championship class in 2020-21 arrives at just the right juncture according to the Reds’ head coach.

His side have seen their performance levels dip in their past two games. Today’s game may be academic, but Ismael is confident it will represent the right sort of test against a Canaries team who can take their points total to 99 with victory on a day when they will be presented with the title on the Oakwell pitch.

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Back in January, Barnsley produced an excellent performance to knock Norwich out of the FA Cup, while they also took heart from their impressive display in being unluckily edged out 1-0 at Carrow Road three weeks earlier.

Valerien Ismael: Faces his good friend. Picture: Tony Johnson

A similar showing to both those meetings would certainly not amiss today.

Ismael, who will field a strong side and resist the urge to rest players, said: “We have to raise our concentration again and Norwich is the perfect opponent for us. They are the deserved champions and we know we have to be at 100 per cent and ready to give another sacrifice.

“In January, we narrowly lost three games, but the feeling was that we were near to competing at that (top) level and the Cup game was really important – the performance with the result.”

“We need a positive final push to end the (league) season.”

Whatever the outcome is, Ismael will have a good catch-up with Canaries chief Farke, who he got to know while they were doing the Pro Licence in 2014, with the German being one of the people who he spoke to ahead of taking the Oakwell post.

Ismael added: “We spoke not only about Barnsley, but the mentality and the football and how he was feeling in English football.

“Barnsley was a topic and it was all positive and the last six months have confirmed all that we spoke about.”

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