Ernesto Valverde has explained how he could not risk starting Lionel Messi in the Copa del Rey semi-final draw against Real Madrid.
The Argentine star had sustained a thigh injury in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Valencia and only appeared in the 63rd minute on Wednesday, but he appeared physically limited.
“He was fine but we cannot take risks with this type of injury,” Valverde told reporters after the match, as cited by Marca.
“He was not fully fit, there were certain discomforts he had and we had to make a decision that was best for everyone.
“As a Coach you need to make tough decisions like this but it must benefit the player and the team, taking a lot of issues into account.
“He is fine, we know he is not at full fitness but we know that he could have been decisive in the closing stages.
“Malcom? This was a big performance from him, he combined with his teammates very well and he put it a really good performance.
“Nelson Semedo? We knew he took a little while to adapt to the dynamics of the club but he has great potential, he is very fast and we are delighted with his progression.
“The tie is open, there is no clear favourite and the calibre of the teams is very high, we will need to score away and it will be very tough but we always back ourselves.”