Ernesto Valverde explained why he opted to start without Philippe Coutinho for Barcelona’s La Liga opener against Alaves on Saturday.
Sergi Roberto was the surprise pick in midfield, but it didn’t really work out as Barcelona struggled for fluency in the first half.
Valverde said he didn’t want to start too many players who had arrived back to training late from the World Cup.
“The two possibilities were Sergi Roberto or Coutinho and I didn’t want to overload the team with players who joined us late,” he said.
”We started last year with this midfield and it has great strength.
”If we had scored in the first half, then we could have delayed our changes, but we missed a player who could take shots on goal and I thought of Coutinho.”
Source | Marca
Coutinho arrived at half-time and ended up scoring Barcelona’s second, after Messi had broken the deadlock with a free-kick.