Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Philippe Coutinho has to 'fight to change situation' at Barcelona, says Valverde

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Ghana forward Emmanuel Boateng provided an assist for UD Levante in their 2-1 win over Barcelona in the quarter-finals first leg of the Copa Del Rey at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia on Thursday evening.

In the 18 man squad, most names are of the younger and academy players who are certainly going to get a chance to show their talent, however, there will be a few first teamers playing as well because Barcelona will certainly be looking to carry home a few away goals in the bag and need experienced men to do so. They had [Jose Luis] Morales' chance [to make it 3-0], but I think in general we were better and deserved - at the very least - our goal.

The return leg of this tie is one of three matches Barca must negotiate within the space of eight days, but this disappointing result leaves Valverde with little scope to rest the likes of Messi, Suarez and Gerard Pique next time around.

"It served us to evaluate players in some tough moments, like in a LaLiga game".

Valverde added that he was "happy" with centre-back Murillo's first showing since signing on a six-month loan from Valencia but conceded it had been a "difficult test" for Miranda and Chumi, who were both substituted. The Brazilian, the club's record signing at €160 million, had endured a frustrating night before scoring the late penalty.

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Asked if Munir was no longer in his plans, Valverde said: "The club has made a decision in that sense, yes".

'Now Dembele's playing and Coutinho isn't and the reverse is happening.

"But, come on, one or the other is almost always playing".

Valverde introduced Arsenal-linked Denis Suarez off the bench and it was the midfielder's mazy dribble that invited Coke into a clumsy challenge, allowing Coutinho to give Barca a much-needed foothold ahead of the return encounter.

On Coutinho's situation, Busquets added: "Everyone wants to play. But I believe that Philippe is going to help us in what's left of the season".