Barcelona have started life in the post-October international break juncture well with an impressive win against Valencia at home. the focus now shifts to the UEFA Champions League, where the Catalan club gets ready to host Dynamo Kyiv.
Ahead of the clash, Ronald Koemnan did his part for the pre-game proceedings with a press conference. He, like always, started by addressing the difficulty of the tie and what to expect.
“We played against Dynamo Kiev last season, and we know what they are capable of. This is a crucial game in the Champions League, we have to win it after losing the last two games.”
After losing their first two games in the competition against Bayern Munich and Benfica, this comes as a must-win encounter for Barça, who want to do their best to qualify for the Round of 16.
“This is a crucial game, we must win and increase our chances of getting into the next round. We know what to do.”
That said, Koeman seemed blunt about what expectations to keep from this Barcelona side. Some might call his response negative or pessimistic, though.
“We can not ask this team of players to win the Champions League, but they get along and everything goes well. I think we can qualify from this group.”
The Dutchman experiemented with a different attacking unit on the weekend, using Sergino Dest as a winger on the right side while Ansu Fati provided width on the left, and Memphis Depay was deployed centrally. All three were involved in goals and Koeman hinted at it again.
“In every game we try to prepare for it in the best way. We want to put together the best line-up with the fitness and readiness of the players in mind.”
After scoring his first goal in his first start since coming back from injury, it has become clear that Barcelona’s best attack includes the Spaniard. Now reported to be on the brink of renewal, Koeman validated those rumours.
“I know they’re close to agreeing a new contract and it’s big news for Barça because we’re talking about someone that can mark the club’s future.”
He continued to talk about Fati and the pressure he has, especially after returning from a year-long injury.
“Ansu Fati can not play 3 games in 7 days. So we’ll think about what’s best for him and the team.”
Barcelona have been linked with Dani Alves in the last few days, and Koeman was naturally questioned about the same.
“Dani Alves? I do not know much about it. I do not know if the club talked about it. It’s better not to talk about it.”
Shifting the topic to Alves’ compatriot, Philippe Coutinho, Koeman discussed his return from injury and how he might fit into the team.
“Coutinho has been injured for a long time and has to improve physically. He has quality and there is competition in the middle of the field.”
As is tradition in almost every press conference these days held at Barcelona, there were questions on Koeman’s future. The former Everton made kept a cool head when quizzed about the same for the umpteenth time.
“My future? It all depends on the results. A coach can never be calm. We are also in a country where these things are more exaggerated.”