SPORTBarcelona vs Valencia: Valverde reacts to 1-0 win
Barcelona manager, Ernesto Valverde, has said Lionel Messi must be allowed to breath, amid the weight of expectations on the Argentina superstar.

Messi helped set up Barcelona’s 1-0 first-leg win over Valencia in the Copa del Rey semi-finals on Thursday, turning provider for team-mate Luis Suarez to score the winner.

“When Messi plays the ball, everybody expects many things from him.

“Sometimes it’s too much because we have to let Messi breathe a bit.

“It’s true he is an awesome player as we have said many, many times. It’s a spectacle watching him every day,” Valverde told reporters after the game.

Barca will take the slender lead to the Mestalla and Valverde added: “I wouldn’t say the score is not that bad because I think the score is good because we won the match.

“Winning a match is really difficult and we did. Valencia didn’t score, so we have to think that 0-0 is good for us at Mestalla but we won’t go there looking to draw the match. We will go for trying to win it.”
Barcelona hold the advantage over Valencia after the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at Camp Nou on Thursday. A single second-half goal from Luis Suarez was enough for the hosts to secure victory and they also kept a clean sheet which could prove vital at the second leg at Mestalla next Thursday.


Ernesto Valverde gave us a few surprises with his starting line-up as he left Philippe Coutinho on the bench and gave Aleix Vidal a start. But Barcelona began the game quickly and the first half pretty much became a case of attack against defence.

Valencia defended well and Barca found it really hard to break them down. Even though they completely dominated possession and played almost the entire first 45 minutes in and around the Valencia penalty area, chances were at a premium.

The most memorable moment of the first half was probably Sergi Roberto going in high and very late on Andreas Pereira and picking up a yellow card. He was probably a little bit lucky it wasn’t a red and not long after Pereira joined him in the book after taking out Lionel Messi with a late challenge.

Barca continued to press until the interval but couldn’t make the breakthrough and we got to half-time with neither team having managed a shot on target, which pretty much tells you all you need to know.


Valencia looked a bit more adventurous in the second half and managed the first shot on target courtesy of Dani Parejo after 51 minutes which Jasper Cillessen claimed comfortably.

Valverde sent on Philipe Coutinho and Barca went close with a Lionel Messi free kick which Domenech punched clear. However, the hosts finally made the breakthrough just after the hour mark as Messi teed up Luis Suarez who headed home at the far post.

Barca made more changes with Paulinho and Paco Alcacer also arriving but like the first half the two goalkeepers were both enjoying pretty quiet evenings.

Alcacer forced Domenech to palm a fierce shot from range over the bar and Messi went past Valencia players all night but Barcelona had to settle for just the one goal.

Barcelona: Cillessen; Roberto, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Vidal (Coutinho), Iniesta (Alcacer), Rakitic Paulinho), Busquets; Messi, Suarez.

Goal: Suarez (‘67)

Valencia: Domenech; Vezo, Gaya, Gabriel, Montoya; Pereira (Maksimovic), Parejo, Soler, Coquelin; Vietto, Moreno (Mina).
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