Ernesto Valverde played down no youth graduates in Barcelona’s XI against Celta Vigo but admitted Iago Aspas was ‘a great player’.
Barca started the game in Vigo with no players from La Masia for the first time in 16 years, while Aspas rescued a point for Celta against the Catalans’ second string.
“The other time we came here, in the Copa, we also made a lot of changes, but this week, taking into account where we came from and what lies ahead, although changing lots of players at once carries risks, we had to take them,” the Coach said after the game.
“I wasn’t happy with the draw because we always want to win, but we’ll settle for it. We were in control of the game at 2-1 up, but then the red card and they threw themselves at us.
“Ultimately we had to suffer, but it’s one more point for us and we’re only two wins away from becoming champions.
“No ‘canteranos’ for the first time in 16 years? It’s something I didn’t think about, but the normal thing for this club is that there are always players from La Masia round.
“Celta? They have a great attack, especially with Iago Aspas, who’s having a one-off season. He’s a great player and he shows it every day.”
Valverde then looked ahead to Saturday’s Copa del Rey Final against Sevilla, its build-up overshadowed by Barca fans possibly not singing the Spanish national anthem and club members requesting ‘senyera’ flags knitted on to the players’ kits with the aim of promoting Catalan independence.
"We always respect everyone,” riposted the former Athletic Bilbao boss.
“It’s a meaty issue. I know this because I’ve coached Athletic and on this issue, the more you talk, the more fuel you throw on to the fire.
“Everyone has the right to express themselves freely. ‘Senyera’ flags on the players’ shirts? All I ask is that we’re recognisable enough to be able to pass the ball to one another and not give it to our opponents.”