FC Barcelona are in Copa del Rey action on Wednesday as they face Murcia at the Camp Nou (7.30pm CET, tickets here) and they’re doing so in a very comfortable position indeed after winning the first leg 3-0.
And Ernesto Valverde was decidedly honest about the situation in his pre-game conference, readily admitting that he doesn’t see the need to field a ‘full strength’ team in order to gain passage to the last sixteen.
“The team in Murcia included several reserve team players, and they lived up the occasion” he said on Tuesday evening. “And my idea on Wednesday is for some of those that travelled to get another chance, and to give a run-out to the players that aren’t getting as many games.”
“We got a favourable result in the first leg, but we still want to go out and perform well. And Murcia are doing better now. They’ve won five of their last six games and will be coming to put up a fight, to play well as a team. We’ll need to play some good football to win this one.”
Asked about various fitness issues, Valverde commented that “we have to be careful about injuries with so many games, but the players are getting into the right physical shape. André Gomes and Sergi Roberto will be back very soon, while we don’t want to risk anything with Dembélé. We need to be cautious because it was a serious injury. The player himself is very eager play again, and that’s important.”
On Thomas Vermaelen, who played in the middle of defence at the weekend, the feedback was positive: “He played a very serious game. He had a difficult role to play and he did it well. he was very attentive.”
The ‘no-goal’ at Mestalla has been the biggest talking point in Spanish sport this week, and the Barça boss was again quizzed on the topic, replying that “In other sports and other leagues technological progress has been used to assist the referees, so it’s absurd that it it’s not being used here and such decisive things as this can still happen.”
And as a general overview of the situation at the Camp Nou right now, the manager beamed that “I am very happy with the team. We are making good progress in every competition. Over the next few weeks we won’t have so many midweek games and that’s important because some of the players can get some rest.”