Barcelona were dismantled at the Camp Nou by a Cristiano Ronaldo-led Juventus, who scored a brace for the Italian giants, beating the hosts 3-0 in the process.
The game highlighted everything that has gone wrong for Barça this season — poor finishing coupled with A grade defensive errors. They do have a chance to change things a bit as they take on Levante at home. Ronald Koeman sat down to address the media ahead of this game, covering a variety of topics.
On Riqui Puig
Riqui Puig put in a sensational shift against Juventus on Tuesday night, and was arguably the only positive from the game. The Spaniard has not been a part of Koeman’s plans this season and was asked about him by the journalists.
“Riqui Puig has done well in the last matches. It depends on the performance of the players looking for the best eleven. We will see what can happen tomorrow.”
He continued to speak about the 21-year-old, justifying his treatment in a way, saying, “On Riqui Puig, I don’t like to individualize and talk about a single player. A coach analyzes his team and what the players can contribute, and in the end, the team that starts decides. We have 25 players, and if you don’t have minutes it’s for something”.
On the Juventus game
Asked about the defeat to the Turin-outfit, Koeman talked about the mistakes, and how the team can improve going ahead.
“Against Juventus we entered the game badly. We let ourselves be dominated. From 0-2 we had a good game. We got 15 points out of 18. In the league it’s something else and you have to be more focused on the details of the game.”
“We lack things, because the results are not at the level we need to be. A lot is a matter of concentration in set pieces or serves on the wing, as happened the other day against Juve.”
Barça conceded two penalties against Juventus, one each committed by the two starting CBs — Ronald Araujo and Clement Lenglet. This was mentioned by the journalists, to which Koeman replied, “I try to respect my players and support them, but we are at a level where if there are mistakes, it must be said with respect. I do not kill any player.”
Speaking about what the team can change, Koeman said, “We have to be more aggressive at various times. We are the team that creates the most chances, but we have a low percentage of success. “
“The team is irregular. Bottoming is worse than we are. We have to be realistic. We played a great game away against Juve and the same thing happened to us at home. We have to improve details and I am convinced that if we do, we will win the games. “
Even though this is Barcelona’s first loss at home in the Champions League in 7.5 years, Koeman seemed to be quite nonchalant about it, almost suggesting that it can happen again: “I don’t think one game is easier than another, it depends on us. If we have a good rhythm there are few teams that can beat us at home.”
On the pressure on him, and dressing room support
Ronald Koeman is under immense pressure, in both man-management and tactical terms. The 4-2-3-1 is not working for the team, and the confidence the dressing room had in him may be drowning.
“I am fine with two defeats because I am comfortable. I am not happy with our trajectory in the League. Until the new president arrives we try to work to maximum. I do not need support, if the results do not arrive the culprit is the coach and that’s something I assume. “
“I think the players believe in me. If not, I couldn’t work. We are trying to improve things. There is enough time to react, but after the last results you have to show your face.”
“If I say something about player, I have already spoken with him before. I try to respect everyone. The other day something came out of Barcelona system is not true. I talk to players every day and they haven’t told me anything about the system or the press conferences.”
On the Levante game and the Madrid derby
Speaking about the game against Levante on the weekend, Koeman said, “Levante game is one that we play at home against a team that surely comes to squeeze us. We have to be aware of the circulation of the ball.”
Barcelona will face Real Sociedad and Valencia after the Levante game, all three at home, which hopefully holds as an advantage. “It is an important week with three home games. With our situation we have to win all three,” said Koeman about the prospect of playing at home all week.
“This team has enough personality and experience. It is a moment where these players with so many years in the club have to take the step with the others. Good players always take a step forward. I hope to see a team tomorrow with enthusiasm.”
Finally, he commented on the Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid game tomorrow — the headliner in Spain for the weekend: “For Madrid derby; we can comment on other games, but first we have to win. If we do it and seeing the classification, Atlético better lose. But we must not obsess over other games.”