Jan 4, 2018 at 6pm UK at ​Balaídos
Attendance: 21,338
Celta Vigo
Sisto (31')
Fontas (26')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Arnaiz (15')
Gomes (64')

Ernesto Valverde: 'Barcelona must ease in Ousmane Dembele'

Valverde: 'Barcelona must ease in Dembele'
© SilverHub
Ernesto Valverde explains that he deliberately used Ousmane Dembele in a central position against Celta Vigo to 'release him of defensive obligations'.

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has revealed that he played Ousmane Dembele in a central-attacking position against Celta Vigo in an attempt to ease the forward back into action.

The £135m summer signing from Borussia Dortmund was given a 20-minute runout in Thursday's Copa del Rey last-16 tie, 110 days after last featuring for his new side.

Dembele picked up a hamstring injury on his first La Liga start for the Catalan giants and has been made to wait for his comeback, which came at Balaidos in the 1-1 first-leg draw.

Rather than stick the Frenchman out wide, though, Valverde instead played him in the role usually associated with the rested Luis Suarez.

"It was so that he could play in a position where he was released of defensive obligations, which were a bit stressful at that time of the match," Valverde told reporters.

"When we know that this was the first game of this player after almost four months without playing, I preferred that he be in a position where he can gradually get used to the game.

"We must take into account that the pace of a whole match against a first division team. For Ousmane, it would have been excessive."

Dembele is now in contention to feature in Barca's home league match against Levante on Sunday afternoon.

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