Emmanuel Boateng assists for Levante in Copa Del Rey victory over Barcelona

Emmanuel Boateng assists for Levante in Copa Del Rey victory over Barcelona

The lead was doubled on 18 minutes as Borja Mayoral - on loan from Real Madrid- managed to squeeze the ball into the back of the net through a couple defenders.

Having already used the first two substitutions for the defence, Valverde threw on reported Arsenal target Denis Suarez for Malcom in the 68th minute as his last throw of the dice.

"The tie is open after Coutinho's goal", Busquets told reporters after the 2-1 loss.

Substitute Jose Luis Morales spurned a glorious chance to strike a third goal for the home side which would have seriously damaged Barca's hopes of staying in the competition.

"They dropped their intensity after that, though".

Coutinho seems unable to dislodge Ousmane Dembele from the forward role he enjoys alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

"It served us to evaluate players in some tough moments, like in a LaLiga game. It's a risk, maybe, but these are the risks we take".

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Busquets was also asked about Coutinho, who has been on the bench in Barça's last four league games. The Brazilian, the club's record signing at €160 million, had endured a frustrating night before scoring the late penalty.

Valverde was blamed last season for Barca's shock Champions Leaue exit, the theory being that he failed to rest key players in the Copa del Rey and La Liga, both of which they won. And if one of them isn't happy, they have to fight to turn things around. "Coutinho gives us a lot and will keep giving us a lot".

He said: "Everyone wants to play".

Their displays have meant that Coutinho has been unable to nail down a position either in midfield or as part of the front three.

"It's hard to come into the side, too, when you've not been playing [regularly] and you have less confidence and rhythm".

"This is a period of the season when fixtures come thick and fast and we will need to make rotations, I am aware of this and so are the players".

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