Lionel Messi had equalized for Barca after Gerard Pique’s own goal opened the scoring at Camp Nou, but late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, who was also sent off, and Marco Asensio handed Madrid the advantage ahead of Wednesday’s second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Valverde, who replaced Luis Enrique in May, feels the result slightly flattered Zinedine Zidane’ side.
“I don’t feel we were as far away as the scoreline indicates,” he said in his post-match news conference.
“[Madrid] were strong in midfield, which made it tough for us to play through the middle. They’re a side that run a lot and they use the space well.
“They scored three, but it was a game in which we did well and we had chances. They’ve caught us out with a counter-attack at 1-1 [to make it 2-1] and scored a great goal – that second goal did a bit of damage to us.
“And the third goal was, again, a great goal. It’s not just about getting to the danger zone, but also being clinical.”