Ernesto Valverde admits he took off Gerard Pique during Barcelona’s 2-0 win at Valencia because “he felt a strain coming on.”
Pique was a doubt going into Thursday’s game and lasted 83 minutes, with Yerry Mina replacing him for his Barca debut as the Catalans reached yet another Copa del Rey Final.
“Barca are used to reaching Finals and playing in them, me not so much,” the Coach said after the game.
“I’m very happy, given it’ll be the fifth consecutive Final for these players, something that’s very difficult to repeat and repeat.
“We thought it’d be very difficult and it was, but we’re going home with tickets to the Final in our pockets.
“We thought they’d give us the ball and they did. They wanted to win the ball back from us and hit us on the break.
“We were able to find players in space and take advantage. We tried it with Messi, Iniesta, etc… We had to try and it went well. We won so we’d reach the Final.
“We found it difficult against Celta and Espanyol and now we have against Valencia. We had a busy January.
“Pique? He felt a strain coming on and we decided that the best thing was to take him off.”