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Koeman talks ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League clash vs Dynamo Kyiv

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Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona is in crisis. The Catalan side has started La Liga in the worst manner possible. With eight points after six games, Barça are currently 12th in the league, leaving their rivals Real and Atletico Madrid a big advantage. However, in the Champions League, the Culés are first and will face Dynamo Kyiv tomorrow. The Dutch manager spoke ahead of this fixture.

First, Koeman responded to a question concerning the team’s playstyle. He maintained that he’s happy with his squad’s display, but he isn’t fond of the lack of finishing. He wants to continue playing well and creating opportunities to score, but, most importantly, would like to keep winning the Champions League fixtures at home. His Barcelona squad has been doing just that in the recent matches. Against Alavés on Saturday, they created 25 opportunities to score. Their shooting boots, however, were missing.

Continuing on tactics, Koeman shared his thoughts about the lack of goals. Much like in his press conferences after the Juventus and Alavés fixtures, Koeman wants to score more goals. He believes in the players’ ability and, eventually, if they keep working hard, will score those opportunities. He still stated that he’s disappointed to have gotten two points out of the last 12 available in La Liga.

“I think we need to score more goals, we are the team that have created many clear chances. We are not happy with two points out of twelve… We are working hard and we have quality.”

Ronald Koeman | Pre-match press conference

The former Everton coach asked for calmness concerning the squad’s performances. While everyone is disappointed about Barça’s position in the league, he thinks that he has given a good image to his Barcelona by implementing many changes and young players. Koeman expanded on young players, taking Pedri as an example. He stated that he has to protect these youngsters and he can’t play Pedri, for example, every game.

The Dutch legend also understands the fans’ criticism, but he aims to move forward towards a better future. Admittedly, while Koeman isn’t fond of his start to the season, he holds on to the positive, which can be seen throughout the press conference. He continuously spoke about how his squad created chances in the last few games, which a manager has to take as a positive. He also reiterated the squad’s hard work and focus ahead of the game.

“I understand the criticism from the fans, I accept it, but I continue to work to improve all this and I hold on to the positive aspects. The team works very hard, the team is focused, but we must be more decisive.”

Ronald Koeman | Pre-match press conference

The game on Wednesday also presents a problem. Dynamo Kyiv are set to land in Spain with a squad decimated by COVID-19. Ronald Koeman is, however, eager to play against them and hopes the cases don’t increase for them. After Real Madrid’s surprising loss at home to an equally decimated Shakhtar Donetsk, the Culés must not take the fixture for granted.

Koeman also shared his thoughts concerning Quique Setién’s words on Lionel Messi. The former Betis and Barça boss called out Messi for being hard to coach and ultimately shared some spicy info about the dressing room from when he was the Culés’ coach. The former Netherlands national team manager doesn’t think Setién is right. He kept repeating how much the Argentine legend is dedicated and has a winner’s mentality. Ultimately, he “doesn’t agree with Setién that it’s difficult to coach Messi.”

“Setién’s words? I respect everyone’s opinion, for me Messi is the best in the world, I see his ambition and his winning character every day. He is the captain and I talk to him every week about pitch and dressing room issues.”

Ronald Koeman | pre-match press conference

More importantly, the 57-year-old was asked about a number 9. According to himself, the former Southampton head coach stated on many occasions that the squad suffers from a lack of strikers. However, the club’s finances make it hard for the giants to go and get a Luis Suarez replacement.

“I have said several times that we are missing a number 9, but it depends on how the club financially is in January. I understand the situation of the club.”

Ronald Koeman | pre-match press conference

Finally, Koeman gave his opinion concerning two figures in the squad. He started by commenting on Marc-André Ter Stegen’s condition. The German will wait until tomorrow to get the medical green light, though he’s already working with the team in training. For Konrad de la Fuente, the American is part of the team, but it’s nice for him to continue to learn under Garcia Pimienta at Barça B.

As a Lebanese teenager who never had the chance to support their local team, I fell in love with the club that was FC Barcelona at the start of the decade. I always was passionate about writing and this is exactly what I am looking for: sharing my insights and opinions on football.