BARCELONA – FC Barcelona’s coach Ernesto Valverde said on Saturday he had no plans to change his starting lineup against Espanyol in the wake of remarks by his defender, Girard Pique, ridiculing their cross-town rival club.
Pique mockingly suggested “Espanyol of Barcelona” was not actually from Catalonia’s capital, instead calling them “Espanyol of Cornella” after the suburb where the club is based.
At a press conference Saturday, Valverde said “I do not think about anything but putting in my best starting lineup” on the eve of the La Liga match against Espanyol, in response to a question about the possibility of keeping Pique on the bench because of his remarks.
Valverde said he was expecting a tense match as usual, adding that the media tended to exaggerate while covering this kind of situation.
“It is the same as playing away against Atletico or Real Madrid. Things became very exaggerated and I do not know why,” he added.
Asked about the possibility of keeping midfielder Andres Iniesta on the bench, he said that there was a need to rest the usual starting players and give minutes to others.
“I’m not ruling anything out, even Jerry Mina could play,” Valverde said, referring to the Colombian defender who joined the Catalan club in the winter transfer window.