Ernesto Valverde appeared before the media on Tuesday evening to discuss Wednesday’s game with Cultural Leonesa at the Camp Nou (9.30pm CET, TICKETS HERE). He had arrived straight from a visit to the memorial set up in honour of former president Josep Lluís Núñez, and was still visibly moved by the experience as he entered the pressroom.
He opened with a few words in memory of a man who ran FC Barcelona for 22 years. “It was him who brought me to Barça as a player” he remembered. “And at the end of last season he sent me a letter to congratulate me on the titles we had won. He said that when he signed me, he had no idea that not only was he getting a player, but also a future first team manager. I hope we can dedicate a win to him tomorrow.”
Turning to the match in question, Valverde said that “we know what a meaningful game it is for our opponents. It was very hard indeed for us to win the first leg. They played very intense football against us and we’ll need to find a way to respond to that. They have it in them to cause us a lot of problems.”
“These are not easy games, but we want to do it for our fans … Tomorrow there will be a festive atmosphere in the stadium for an occasion that’s all about solidarity.”
He was referring to the fact that the fixture is the annual one in which season ticket holders selflessly give up their seats to less fortunate members of society who might otherwise never get the chance to experience a game at the Camp Nou.
On the specific case of Carles Aleñá, he offered that “he is a player who has won this right over time. Now he is a first team player with full effect. We want to give him playing time and gradually turn him into an important member of the team.”