FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has spoken on a range of subjects prior to his team’s meeting with Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Firstly, the Dutchman got his press conference underway by revealing that Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong will not travel east due to needing a rest, and this luxury has been afforded to the Catalans due to their “relatively comfortable” position at the top of Group G.
Explaining this further later on, Koeman added that Messi “had a long journey back” from South America when representing Argentina in the World Cup qualifiers, and complained that soccer’s current schedule is “very tough”.
“You have to protect the players because it’s impossible to get [them] in shape,” he stressed, before suggesting that governing bodies FIFA and UEFA need to bump heads and find a resolution to the problem.
On his shortage of centre backs, after Gerard Pique was crocked on Saturday in the 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid, Koeman revealed that Samuel Umtiti should be able to play in a couple of weeks’ time and is “already training with the group”.
Probed on whether he could soon be out of a job amid concerning scorelines as of late, Koeman answered, “Our lives always depend on what happens. Results have a huge influence and we cannot be happy, but it does not take away the ambition we have, and of how happy I am with the staff to do the best [they can]. Tomorrow we have the opportunity to qualify [for the knockout phases] in the Champions League and we have to take advantage of it.”
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“I am not satisfied with the points we have lost as the Barça coach, but we know our situation – that of the club and the decisions we have made – [and] I have put all my energy into the work we are doing. I’m not happy about the points [tally] we have [in La Liga],” Koeman admitted.
He also refused to concede that his 4-2-3-1 formation, which appears to work on the continent but not domestically, is a problem. “I think you can say a lot of things but it’s not a matter of the system. We have players to play in many systems and in principle we have the 4-2-3-1. It seems that Barça can only play 4-3-3, but it depends on the circumstances of the match. We have to leave [pointing to] system issues.”
“La Liga and the Champions League are different,” Koeman began along similar lines. “With the calendar we have, I am convinced that at the end of the year we will be first [in the table]. The team has a lot of ambition. The Champions League is different, especially [when] winning home games and scoring away, as we did at Juve. Then we move on to the last 16, but I don’t think we’re going to win the Champions League because it’s very difficult – it depends on which opponent we’re up [against], and they can be varied.”
Coy on what improvements can be made in the January transfer window given how injury-ravaged the squad is, Koeman admitted that Pique’s loss is “very difficult”.
Source: Forbes – Business