Ernesto Valverde has defended his experimental Barcelona side that crashed to a 2-1 loss at Levante in Thursday’s Copa del Rey tie.
Barca made wholesale changes for the first leg of the last 16 tie, with a mix of backup players and youngsters called upon for first-team selection.
“The players I picked were those who I thought gave us the best chance of winning the game,” Valverde explained, as cited by Diario Sport.
“We need to recognise the fact that we need to rotate our players and doing this for any game is a risk, whether it is La Liga, the Copa or in Europe.
“Jeison Murillo’s debut? I was very happy with him, he provides the experience for these type of games and can show leadership to the younger players.
“Philippe Coutinho? I am asked why he is not playing but when he was and Ousmane Dembele wasn’t, the questions were reversed, so what can I do?
“He adds a lot of value to our team and to our squad, and the same can be said about Dembele – although the qualities are different, we need to be able to depend on more than just 11 players.”