Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona‘s manager is happy with his team’s result tonight at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.
Our performance? It seemed pretty good to me,” Valverde said after the game. “We went to a place where it’s difficult to play. [Chelsea] are the champions of the Premier and we carried their weight from the first whistle. They had some strong players who posed us problems on the counter, but they hardly had any chances. It’s a good result and I think we deserved the 1-1. It’s difficult when so many players group up against you. It’s difficult to find space. Therefore, you must fight back with quality, pace and good finishing. Did Messi drop too deep? Possibly, but they defended with five at the back. If we put five more up top, they’d defend with 10 players there and they’d enjoy the space as a result. We had to protect ourselves, so we’re happy in that sense. How do I see the return leg? There’s still a long way to go. That’ll be the decisive match. To some extent, they’ll be more obligated [to perform], but our approaches may be similar. Why Aleix and not Dembele? [Dembele’s] been out injured for a while, and for a match like this, Coaches go with the things they know best”. Aleix also gives us things, a different profile. When we’re faced with a match like this, I rely on certainties. I had to play Paulinho as a starter and then bring on Aleix Vidal for more depth. It wasn’t the time to experiment. That’s how I see it.”