CDR: Valverde named squad for Valencia, talks Pique, Dembele - FCNaija

Copa Del Rey By: Ambrose Udeme | 08/02/2018

Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has discussed the fitness of his team after including Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele in the Catalans' squad for Thursday's Copa del Rey second leg against Valencia at the Mestalla.

The Blaugrana travel to the Mestalla Stadium for the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia with a first leg lone goal lead.

And Valverde who has called 18 players for the trip gave an update on the fitness of both Pique and Ousmane Dembele as well as discussing his options at center-back. Quotes extracted from Barcablaugranes

Valverde on Pique

Gerard Pique, Barcelona

"It’s true he had some discomfort after the game. But he hasn’t been ruled out for tomorrow’s game. We’ll see today whether or not he can play and that’s the situation. He’ll test things out, he’ll train and we’ll see."

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Valverde on Dembele

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"He’s good, he’s training with the team. I think he’ll be ready maybe next week or the week after."

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Valverde on Yerry Mina

Yerry Mina, Barcelona

"He’s been in the squad recently and that means he’s ready to play. It depends on what happens, he has to be ready to go and we’ll see if that happens tomorrow (Thursday).

"We think he can help us and of course there will be issues that come up and we have to try and correct them. He wants to learn a lot of things, he has energy, we hope he can overcome these things and become an important player."

Valverde on other center-back options

"Players that can play in multiple positions is an advantage for us, versatility is good. We have to choose based on the situation and based on who is available. There’s Thomas Vermaelen, there’s Yerry Mina, we have other options like Sergio Busquets, Lucas Digne. It depends on the situation. Someone will be there for sure."

The big surprise inclusion in the squad that has Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez is that Gerard Piqué is available to play after suffering what looked like a serious knee injury on Sunday’s match against Espanyol. But the Future President is not only back but also expected to start, which is a bit of a risk but is also understandable given Barça have a narrow 1-0 lead from the first leg to defend.

Four players will be missing out on this one: Ousmane Dembélé and Thomas Vermaelen are injured, while Denis Suarez and Lucas Digne won’t play per Valverde’s choice.

The 18 players that left a 10.35am CET flight on Thursday morning are as follows: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Iniesta, Luis Suárez, Messi, Cillessen, Coutinho, Paulinho, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Aleix Vidal, Umtiti and Yerry Mina.