Barcelona is encouraged after the debut of Philippe Coutinho and Ernesto Valverde has ‘high hopes’ for the future.
“Good players always adapt well,” Valverde said after Thursday’s 2-0 Copa del Rey win for Barca against Espanyol.
“We have high hopes for him here at the club, in the sense that he will be good for our style of play. He’s a confident lad who can help us because he’s good in one-on-one situations, he can spot the free man. … And when he gets close to the area, you can sense the danger.
“It wasn’t an easy game, but I think he did well. But let’s see, this is just the beginning…”
Valverde introduced Coutinho in the 68th minute to a loud and continuous ovation from the second-largest Camp Nou crowd of the season.
Overall the team looked fluid and played strong.
“I liked the performance, above all the way we managed the final stages,” Valverde said (h/t ESPN FC). “We turned the tie around in the first half, but we had to look for a third goal because one for Espanyol would have knocked us out.
“In the end, we’ve managed the game well. Leo [Messi] took responsibility, getting on the ball, holding it and making time [to] pass. You have to know how to play with this type of pressure and tension. And we did. Espanyol were in the tie until the last minute and we had to work really hard.”
Barca go into Friday’s draw with Sevilla, Valencia and Leganes.
“The cup is tough,” Valverde said.
“You can’t be sure of anything. With what happened yesterday [Madrid losing to Leganes] and the day before [Sevilla beating Atletico], you can see it’s not easy to get through.
“I think the teams that are in the last four are there because they have really worked hard. In these games, you can’t have a bad day because you will be punished. You will be knocked out of the competition.”