Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman spoke to the media after his side’s impressive 3-1 victory over Valencia. Though the hosts went down early to Jose Gaya’s goal, his side responded well and came back to win the game convincingly.
It was a fairytale start to a difficult week ahead, and Koeman had nothing but praise for his players. Here are the snippets from the Dutchman’s post-match interview-
When asked about the combination between Ansu Fati and Memphis Depay, Koeman said the duo are complementary to each other.
“Ansu and Memphis are complementary to each other. They can both play as a striker or coming inside from the left. They can switch positions all throughout the match.”
On Phillipe Coutinho, who scored Barcelona’s third goal today, the Dutch manager said he always trusted the Brazilian.
“With Coutinho’s introduction and giving him freedom, we controlled the game better. He’s a player who knows how to score. From the first day I have believed in him. With time, he will recover his quality because with every day, he is getting better physically.”
Koeman had one eye on the game against Dynamo Kyiv in the UEFA Champions League, and considered it as important.
“Wednesday’s match is as important as today’s. Winning gives us the confidence that we all want.”
The Dutchman was then asked about his approach with Ansu Fati. With the youngster just returning from injury, Koeman said that he has a plan in place.
“We have a plan with Fati. It’s his first match as a starter. We agreed that he would play for an hour so that he could improve more physically.”
Koeman further praised the teenager and said that he was ‘different’ from the other players in the team.
“Fati showed a lot. He is a different player from the rest of the players we have. We need him a lot. This is good for us.”
The manager also had good words to spare for Kun Aguero, who made his debut for the Catalans today. Koeman said that the team badly missed him.
“We were missing Kun [Aguero]. He is a player who gives us quality up front.”
When asked about the plan for the next two days before the side faces Dynamo Kyiv, the coach said they will take advantage of the time in their hands.
“We have two quiet days which we want to take advantage of. There is a beautiful thing about our profession- the feelings differ between winning and losing. We have to prepare for the next game.”
Needless to say, Koeman was asked his views on the penalty decision to which he said,
“There are doubts about the penalty kick. The referee decided [that it was a penalty], and VAR did not interfere.”
The coach was then asked if this was the team’s best performance this season. Koeman responded by saying that there were several good games before today too.
“I think we played several very good matches like against Sociedad. I think we improved. Today, defensively we were excellent, and Valencia did not pose a threat.”
On the night, Ansu played on the left wing and Sergino Dest played high on the right-wing. Koeman commented on his choice saying, “Ansu on the left and Dest on the right is an excellent pair.”
The Dutchman also praised the USMNT star further by saying that he had a very good match.
“Dest at Ajax played great football, even the left flank. It was a great match for him [tonight].”
Koeman was then asked about the early goal conceded, to which he said that the team could have positioned better.
“There are goals you receive that you can do nothing about. Maybe we could have positioned better on the edge of the penalty area, but Gaya’s shot was too strong.”
Finally, the manager was asked to pick his favourite moment on the day. Koeman went into deep thought but finally settled on Ansu Fati’s wonderful goal.
“We had several moments in the first half in which we played well. Perhaps Dest’s chance was our best attack. Also, the first goal, which was a beautiful combination between Ansu and Depay. Fati brought us back to the match and that was important.”