Koeman talks Messi, Xavi, Mingueza, VAR and new formation
Ronald Koeman has seemingly turned Barcelona’s fortunes around of late. The Dutchman is slowly but surely unlocking his side’s potential. Following their 4-1 dismantling of Huesca, Koeman was very happy with his team’s display.
After a highly promising display against Paris Saint Germain, the club’s newfound sense of confidence and optimism after the return of Joan Laporta as president, stayed intact. The victory against Huesca meant that Barcelona stay in second place, just four points behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, meaning that the top spot is within touching distance.
Koeman was quick to heap praise on Lionel Messi in the post-match presser, who, equalled Xavi’s record of most appearances for Barcelona with 767 and marked it with two amazing goals. He also expressed his puzzlement at the officiating that led to the Huesca penalty and talked about finding balance in his new three-man defense tactical system.
On the result: “We played a good first half, and we deserved the win. We did what we needed to do, and we have taken a step closer to the league leaders.”
On the title race: “I’ve always said there’s many more games to play in La Liga. It’s always very difficult for any team to keep up. We’ve reacted well, despite the points we lost at the start. We can’t lose any more points because we’ve already lost so many.”
On the team’s finishing: “It’s important to finish off moves when we get close to the opposition’s area. Today we scored two goals by shooting from outside the box in a match where we were doing well. We needed to start scoring from a distance and we’ve been doing that lately.”
On Lionel Messi’s performance: “Once again, Messi has proven that he is the best.”
On Messi equalling Xavi’s record: “You can’t say anything else about Leo. The level he has been at for so many years and so many matches. He has equaled Xavi’s record and is the most important player in Barça’s history. It’s a good thing he’s still with us.”
On the Huesca penalty call: “The VAR did not intervene. If it intervened it wouldn’t have been a penalty. Everyone saw that Marc didn’t touch the Huesca player. I don’t understand how you can whistle for a penalty like that.”
On scoring from set pieces: “We are not that good at scoring from corners. We need to improve, but Oscar’s goal was great.”
On his new formation: “The new formation with three defenders gives more defensive strength, and we benefit more from the quality of our players.”
On the team’s overall improvement: “We’ve improved things, lately we’ve been more effective, we’ve reduced errors in defense. We’re confident, better positioned. The system with three centre-backs has given us more strength defensively and we take better advantage of the quality of the players.”
On the young players’ great form: “The youngsters? Mingueza is showing that he can play in many positions in the back. His development is very good. He’s playing a lot. Pedri is also doing very well… But the veterans also contribute a lot.”