Ernesto Valverde has held his usual pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday’s visit from Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey.
The Barcelona boss gave his opinion on yesterday’s Ballon d’Or ceremony, Luis Suarez’s fitness and Carles Alena’s promotion to the first team.
Here are the best bits:
Valverde on the Ballon d’Or
I will not enter into discussions about the value of a prize or not. We congratulate Modric for the Ballon d’Or, but Messi in fifth place is absurd.
Valverde on Luis Suarez
Yes, we are optimistic. He won’t be in the team [against Cultural Leonesa] but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be. We want him to be back this weekend.
Valverde on Carles Alena
Alena is a player who has got into the first team The idea was that he was going to become more involved from January but he is ahead of that timescale due to Rafinha’s injury.
Valverde on team selection
There will be changes to the line-up and there will be players who have had not so many opportunities and it will be a chance to see them. But let’s not forget it’s not just about seeing what players can do, it’s about winning. We have a strong motivation for the match.
Valverde on Cultural Leonesa
This is very significant game for them. I know that they haven’t been getting the results they’ve wanted. We struggled in the first leg at their ground and it’s always good to highlight how difficult these games are because in Cup ties, there’s every chance of losing. They made us suffer in the first leg, they played a very intense game and so we’ll need to be ready to respond to that.
Valverde on Lenglet
Some times players take time in adapting but he settled in to the dynamic of the team very quickly. He’s turned out to be a key player for us because he’s been forced to cover for players who’ve been out injured – playing time that would have been shared between Umtiti and Vermaelen but has fallen on him. It’s a real luxury to have him here with us.