Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Valverde proud of Barcelona back-ups despite tame Huesca draw

SoccerNews in La Liga 13 Apr 2019

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Ernesto Valverde was proud of the way his back-up Barcelona side performed at Huesca despite them being held to a disappointing 0-0 draw on Saturday.

LaLiga’s bottom club earned a deserved point at home to the leaders, who made 10 changes to the starting line-up from the Champions League quarter-final first-leg win over Manchester United three days ago.

With United visiting on Tuesday and Barca commanding a healthy advantage at the top of the league table, Valverde took the opportunity to rest stars including Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic.

Moussa Wague and Jean-Clair Todibo made their debuts for the Catalans, while Riqui Puig and Jeison Murillo earned first league performances, with Kevin-Prince Boateng given a run-out and Ousmane Dembele granted a full hour as he works his way back to full fitness.

And head coach Valverde was pleased with Barca’s display given the makeshift line-up he deployed.

“We’re happy because it was a difficult match for us. A lot of new people came in, but they understood what they had to do,” he said.

“I did not want to play [Nelson] Semedo or [Jordi] Alba because they played the full game the other day. Sergi Roberto had muscle discomfort, too. We were forced to play with Malcom on one wing and Wague on the other.

“It cost us a little at the beginning, but we’re happy because the players went above and beyond, and we had our options. It was tough, but I thought that’s what we needed to do.

“You have to understand the circumstances around the game. They were not normal debuts, like when a player debuts alongside the first-choice players. 

“We changed a lot of players, the way to play and against a team that’s playing against relegation.”

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