Ernesto Valverde has showered praises on Antoine Griezmann after he stepped up in the absence of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to help Barcelona to a 5-1 win over Real Betis in the La Liga clash between the two sides at the Camp Nou on Sunday night.
The Blaugrana who lost their opening league match of the campaign last week to Atletic Bilbao were missing Messi and Suarez last night, it appeared to have affected them as Betis took the lead through Nabil Fekir.
However, summer signing, Antoine Griezmann stepped up to the plate by levelling scores minutes before halftime before putting the team in the lead with a superb finish moments after the restart.
Further goals from Perez, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal secured a comfortable victory for Barcelona, but it was Griezmann that Valverde singled out for praise.
“I have to recognise that it was an important day for him due to the injuries we had. He reacted perfectly,” Valverde said post-match.
“He dropped into the midfield to help and he made an impact. We know that if attacking players track back, we have a better chance of winning.
“It is essential that more players score goals. The fact that Griezmann scored gives him some security.”
Valverde also revealed he decided not to risk Messi for the clash because he did not want him to suffer a relapse while he also praised Ansu Fati who became the youngest player to ever play for Barcelona in a competitive match since the 1941-1942 season.
“There wasn’t a positive feeling. He hasn’t had a relapse of the injury,” Valverde said. “We already said that we wouldn’t rush any player. What we wanted to avoid was a relapse.”
On Ansu, Valverde praised his self-confidence and revealed he is the youngest player he has ever handed a debut to. “He has a lot of self-confidence, goes to space, faces one-on-one,” Valverde said.”He is the youngest player I’ve ever handed a debut, but as with veterans, we look at performance, he can give us good performances and that’s why I gave him his debut.
16 years and 300 days.
Ansu Fati is the youngest player to appear for Barcelona in a competitive match since the 1941-42 season ✨ pic.twitter.com/xPNnHpguEq
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 25, 2019
“Ansu has surprised us because he has qualities, we will see what happens in the future.”