Despite Ronald Koeman not being on the sidelines for the game against Valencia last weekend, Barcelona were able to conjure up a 2-3 win. With four games remaining in the season, Barça must do everything possible, including wishing for favours from their closest opponents if they want to be crowned champions of the league.
The next obstacle on the road if Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou, who have charged up a title run of their own this season. Ahead of the game vs Diego Simeone’s men, Koeman addressed the media, covering several themes.
He started off by commenting on the rollercoaster of a season, saying, “During a season there are always ups and downs. We have recovered a lot of ground to be where we are and we did not expect it three months ago. Now I understand that this is a day that can be an important step. We have to be very ready.”
There are four teams in the La Liga race this season, with Sevilla as the outside contenders to the throne. Koeman talked about the same, saying, “We are two good teams and we are fighting with two more teams. The style of each team is very different, it cannot be compared.”
The game against Atleti will certainly be important, but not decisive according to Koeman: “I don’t think tomorrow’s result will be decisive. Important, yes, but not decisive.”
Koeman’s suspension is yet to be revoked or cut down, and he talked about the same, saying, “CAS appeal? I don’t know why we haven’t heard something yet. I would like to be at the game, but if not, it’s no problem. Our staff has shown they’re great during the game against Valencia.”
Even though four games remain for all of the top 4, Koeman seems to be confident that Barça can win the league if they simply win all of the remaining games: “I am convinced that if we win our remaining 4 games we will be champions.”
On the other side of things, Ansu Fati just went through another operation on Thursday in Porto, Portugal. The Dutchman was asked about the same, to which he replied, “I spoke to Ansu before his trip. We encouraged him. There were some things that didn’t go well because 6 months is a long time and the most important thing is that he will recover and he will be with us next season.”
Ousmane Dembele was not brought on by Koeman against Valencia, but he claimed that he still trusted the Frenchman: “It is clear that I am counting on Dembélé, as with everyone else on the list. He can be on the pitch. Lots of things can happen during a game. We will put the best team with which we think we can win the match.”
Lionel Messi has been in the news again, with reports claiming that he is likely to continue with Barcelona next season in exchange for a solid sporting project. Koeman said about the same, saying, “The best thing for us is that Leo stays, because it means continuing with the best player in the world. Of course we talk about the preseason, about signings, about how to improve the squad, it’s normal.”
Mateu Lahoz has been chosen as the referee for the game against Atletico Madrid, which has naturally brought up several controversies among Barcelona fans. Koeman was asked his opinion on the same, to which he replied, “I don’t think I should talk about referees. In general, the Federation puts one of the best referees for these games. We have to hope that he gets his decisions right.”
Finally, he concluded the presser by making a rather bold statement about his suspension, suggesting there were external powers involved, “I think my suspension has been a personal matter against me. What I said is no reason to suspend me for two games, I think there is something more.”