Barcelona were unable to fulfil their desire for three wins on the bounce as they hosted Valencia on the Camp Nou for the third home game of the week. The squad fell to a Maximiliano Gomez’s equaliser in the 69th minute, and late changes could only do so much to help the team.
The goal is to clinch a win against their next opponents Real Valladolid as Barcelona travel to the Jose Zorrilla Estadio in the namesake city. Ronald Koeman sat down to address questions from the media (via Barça TV+) ahead of this fixture.
Ousmane Dembele started the season in rather spectacular form, but could not sustain his performances for a long time as injuries came back to haunt him. He was ruled out for a few weeks after sustaining a strain in the second half against Cadiz. After missing four games in a row, Dembele was expected to be named in the squad for Real Valladolid, but Koeman suggested otherwise.
“It is still early for Ousmane Dembélé because he only did part of the training session with the team. He is missing a few training sessions, and will surely be available for the match against Eibar.”
On Araujo and Lenglet
Ronald Araujo has come into the first team this season and has acted as an unlikely saviour for the team, performing at a level nobody expected him to, standing out game after game. He was name-checked by the journalists in the room, to which Koeman replied:
“I know the number 4 weighs a lot here, but it’s not weighing on him because he’s being brave, physically strong and he’s playing well. He has to improve a lot of things and hopefully he will continue with the number 4.”
Clement Lenglet has been benched for two games running and brought on in both games. However, the decision to bring him on against Valencia felt peculiar especially when Barcelona were on a level scoreline. Naturally, Koeman was asked to justify this:
“Yes, there are several reasons because rotations must be made. You can’t play every game.”
On Real Madrid
Real Madrid seemed to have resurrected to their best form right on time, as Barcelona continue down the same inconsistent path. Yesterday, they won 3-1 in the encounter against Eibar, and several eyebrows were raised over a handball by Sergio Ramos, which was not given as a penalty.
“If you ask ten people who come from Madrid, nine would say yes it’s a pen, but the referee and his team decided not to whistle. But hey, we already know how it goes.”
“I don’t understand the criteria when it comes to penalties and VAR, but there are things that cannot be understood.”
He was then asked to comment on if he thought Madrid received help from referees and despite constantly implying that he did think that, he disagreed, albeit in a rather diplomatic manner.
“No, I can look at a possible penalty situation and think what I think, like anyone else. The referee thought otherwise.”
On the Real Valladolid clash
As Barcelona travel to Valladolid for this clash which promises a lot to a neutral, Koeman repeated the same things he has been saying all season.
“In Valladolid we have to play a more stable game with fewer ups and downs, with and without the ball. We must maintain concentration until the last minute!”
He also talked about the changes he has been making to the team, including the personnel. Despite not giving adequate game-time to Riqui Puig and Carles Aleña, Koeman suggested that his management of younger players was good.
“We have changed many things and younger people play. This is good for the future, but at Barça you must still win titles. We know that we are changing things for the future, but we are Barça and we must win games.”
Finally, he talked about his ever-changing formations, before and during games, to which he replied, “We have changed many things and younger people play. This is good for the future, but at Barça you must still win titles. We know that we are changing things for the future, but we are Barça and we must win games.”