Clément Lenglet started his first game in a week against Real Valladolid. The Frenchman scored and led by example in an experimental lineup with three defenders in the back. Following his display, he spoke in the post-match press conference (via Barça TV+).
“We played a complete match. We are very happy with the win and playing well.”Clément Lenglet | Post-match interview
This win against Valladolid is Barça’s first away victory in La Liga since the win at Balaidos in September. There are promising signs that Ronald Koeman has to build upon. Lenglet was asked what he thinks about the new system, but the 25-year-old passed it over to Koeman:
“It’s up to the manager to change the system. He’s the one who chooses, and today it went well. Jordi was able to play higher without having to do so many long runs to defend and that suits him.Clément Lenglet | post-match interview
“We don’t have much time to prepare because there are so many games and a few breaks. We do what we can with the short time we have.”
Despite that it looks like the Dutchman has found his new system, we have to mention that a victory over a poor Real Valladolid side can by no means be a measure. There are still a lot of aspects to improve in, and these should come with time if Koeman can stay consistent with his system.
After having a brilliant connection with captain Lionel Messi, Pedri was chosen Man of the Match. Lenglet praised the two:
“They are two great players and great players understand each other well. Pedri plays with his head and although he doesn’t have a great physique, playing with his head helps him a lot.”Clément Lenglet | Post-match interview
After scoring the opener, Lenglet tributed for Moussa Wagué, who is suffering from a potentially career-ending injury. Everyone hopes that the Senegalese defender recovers soon.
“Wague is the dressing room’s friend, and we had spent lots of time together. He has suffered a very bad injury and we hope he can recover soon.”Clément Lenglet | Post-match interview
Leaked conversation between Piqué and Alba on Cup final: “I don’t know if we will win”
Barcelona’s bitter El Clasico defeat to rivals Real Madrid was followed by a rather glum-sounding conversation between defenders Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique. The Deportes Cuatro cameras captured the two veterans talking about their upcoming cup final with polarizing views about their chances of winning.
Historically speaking, an El Clasico defeat is often damaging to morale, which may lead to a string of poor results. Especially in an encounter as crucial as this one, which could have handed Barcelona control of the La Liga title race, a loss is even harder to stomach.
Real Madrid and La Liga aside however, Barcelona must now turn their attention to the Copa del Rey final on Saturday against Athletic Bilbao. The Basques have already prevailed once over the Catalans in a cup final this year, beating them to the Spanish Supercup in a tight encounter.
Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique’s interaction after the Clasico however, was rather interesting. The latter seemed optimistic about Barcelona’s chances of securing their first title of the season. Alba however, was not so convinced.
“We’ll win this cup, for sure,” said Pique to Alba, to which the left-back responded: “I don’t know.”
A puzzled Pique confrontationally asked what he meant, as Alba responded: “I’m just saying, I don’t know.”
The biggest merit of Ronald Koeman in his first spell with Barcelona has been his ability to instill a winning mentality within the squad. There has been more belief that the team can fight and win under tough circumstances, which has largely been lacking in the past few years.
No matter how difficult this Clasico defeat is to swallow, the Blaugrana must put those doubts to bed before their cup final and approach it with full optimism and confidence.