Barcelona Discussed his rotations in a press conference
With Barcelona already guaranteed to finish top of their Champions League group,Lionel Messiwas left out ofErnesto Valverde’s squadfor their Tuesday night match againstInterand the coach explained himself on Monday evening.
He insisted thatBarcelonamust still go out to win and reminded journalists that this isn’t the first time thatMessi, who was injured at the start of the season, is on the sidelines.
“Internal decisions will remain internal,”Valverdesaid at a press conference when asked about the Ballon d’Or winner.
“These decisions are made by the coach based on what he believes is best.
“We are coming off the back of a number of games and, taking into account what we have coming up, we decided he couldn’t come.
“When there is noMessi, there are still 11 players.
“For us, he is decisive, but it isn’t the first time he is missing.
“Our goal is to maintain our competitiveness and style of play.
“Jordi Albadoesn’t have the medical all clear, neither does[Nelson] SemedoandMessihas been rested.
“Netowill play tomorrow and that’s all.”
Valverdewas full of praise for newIntercoachAntonio Conteand the way they play.
“I expect a greatInterside,”Valverdeadded.
“They are the leaders in Serie A, and in the first match in the group they made things very difficult.
“They are having a great season and last year they also had a game like this, but didn’t win their match againstPSV.
“The coach may have changed and some players have changed, but the spirit is similar.
“We are here to fight and to win.
“Knowing that they have a good team, we will have to demonstrate our quality on the field.
“It’s a difficult and important challenge.
“We know that we have already qualified and they are playing for qualification.
“Our intention is to take the game toInterand compete, and see if we can win this year.
“In all the years I have been here we have reached the final group match with qualification secure and haven’t lost any of those games.
“We know what we need to do and we don’t care about whatever the other team need to do.”
Of theInterplayers,Lautaro MartinezandRomelu Lukakuhave become a fearsome pairing this season andValverdediscussed both of them.
“[Lautaro] is having a great season,”Valverdestated.
“He is fast and powerful and scored a great goal atthe Camp Nou.
“He has a very good understanding withLukakuand their movement gives a lot toInter.
“As forLautarobeing similar toLuis Suarez, they are a little different but both are born goalscorers.
“A player as strong asLukakucan hold off anyone, so he is difficult to stop.
“He is a technically great player and has made a great start to the season.”
Ivan Rakitichas come back into theBarcelonaside in recent weeks and could be in line to start againstInteron Tuesday.
“There are players and roles which will change,”Valverdesaid.
“Some who haven’t played much will be able to take advantage tomorrow andRakiticis one of these players.
“For me, competition is positive.”