In his pre-match press conference, Ronald Koeman received a lot of questions, as the journalists want to know what the Dutch manager’s plans are after two underwhelming games at the helm of the Catalans. As the former Everton coach gets ready to face Ferencvaros, which looks like a banker for Barça, in the Champions League, the journalists wanted to know his stance on Barcelona’s chances in the Champions League.
Ronald Koeman, perhaps wanting to seem realistic, did not big his side up and admitted that he didn’t view his side as the favourites to win the coveted competition. Whilst not dreaming about winning the cup, Koeman thinks his side can go far, and maybe further than Quique Setién’s side last campaign.
“We’re not the best favourites to win the Champions League, but we can go far.”Ronald Koeman in his press conference ahead of the Ferencvaros game
Objectively, Koeman is right to say that because his side, after a hectic summer and an even crazier year, might not have what winning the Champions League demands. Sure, he’s got the best player in the world in Leo Messi and some great players in Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati, Marc-André Ter Stegen, Gérard Piqué and Clément Lenglet. Still, he doesn’t possess the team to win the cup, especially as Bayern Munich and many other sides look more ready after overcoming transition periods.
While the coach’s comments might seem a bit too fatalist, the Culés must understand that their team is in a transition period after a traumatic event, the 8-2, and a trophyless year. This time, unlike 2014, there wasn’t any money to paper over the cracks with superb players such as Ivan Rakitic or Luis Suarez. This year, the fans should focus on the league which seems like a much more realistic achievement for this season, especially as no one seems like dominating the league this year in Spain.
Koeman talks Griezmann, Pjanic, Messi following 3-0 win over Elche
Barcelona were able to put the draw against Cadiz behind them as they welcome Elche to the Camp Nou for a rescheduled round 1 fixture of La Liga. A brace from Lionel Messi and the dagger in the 73rd minute from Jordi Alba was enough for the hosts to seal the 3-0 win and the three points. Barça temporarily move into third place, two clear off Sevilla, who have a game in hand.
Following the game, Ronald Koeman spoke to the press as part of his post-game presser, where he acknowledged the improvements made by the team in the second half: “We were much better in the second half than we were in the first half. Everything went more fluently, and we had more depth.”
Miralem Pjanic had a decent outing in the first half, but was subbed off at the 45 minute mark for Ousmane Dembele. Koeman was asked about the same, to which he replied, “Pjanić? He has to work on his rhythm on the ball and his positioning. When you change a player it seems to be his fault, but that’s not it. With Dembélé we would have more depth, and that’s why we subbed him on.”
Leo Messi was the difference maker on the night, but it seems that the Dutch manager is far from impressed with the other veterans in the squad: “When I talk about veteran players, I don’t mean Leo, because his effectiveness is still impressive. Other veterans have to make a difference.”
The media was curious about the lack of goals in the first half, which changed almost immediately in the second. Koeman said the the score-less half was not down to the attitude of the team: “I liked the team’s attitude. That we couldn’t score in the first half, doesn’t mean our attitude was bad. Sometimes things just don’t work out. We’re humans, not machines.”
Antoine Griezmann was brought on later in the game to extend the cushion by Barça, but failed to take the easiest of chances, hitting the crossbar from close range. However, the decision to not start him was particularly interesting, and Koeman was inquired about the same: “Griezmann needed rest because he played a lot. We play many games, and sometimes fatigue is visible. We have to be fresh, and hence the changes today.”