By 90Min
August 19, 2018

Ernesto Valverde admitted that his side can still improve following their 3-0 opening day victory over Alaves at the Camp Nou on Saturday evening. 

Despite their herculean defensive efforts throughout the first half, the visitors were eventually broken shortly after the hour mark as Lionel Messi showed his brilliance once again with an under-the-wall free kick. 

Philippe Coutinho added a special goal late on before the Argentine wizard wrapped up all three points in style in second half stoppage time. 

But despite the - in the end - comfortable victory for the Catalonians, Valverde admitted to Marca he was not fully satisfied with his side's showing, but knows there is still a long way to go. 

"We haven't been able to play our best game," he explained in his post-match interview. "The fact that they were situated so deep made our first combinations slow down a little.

"They had very tight defensive lines, a very defensive approach, and it made things difficult for us, but we're in August and hopefully we'll improve."

Despite his excellent form at the back end of last term and during pre-season, Valverde opted to leave Coutinho on the bench - alongside his four summer signings - during the first half. However, the Spaniard was quick to explain that his decision was fatigue management based and nothing more. 

"The two possibilities were Sergi Roberto or Coutinho and I didn't want to overload the team with players who joined us late," he clarified. "We started last year with this midfield and it has great strength.

"If we had scored in the first half, then we could have delayed our changes, but we missed a player who could take shots on goal and I thought of Coutinho."

Messi's smart free-kick not only sent Barcelona on their way to victory, but it also marked the club's 6000th goal in La Liga. And Valverde admitted his delight after the match, although, he was not necessarily surprised by his player's brilliance.


"He already scored a goal like that against Girona," he intimated. "Leo can always surprise you; it's not usual. The shot he also fired against the post was masterful." 

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)