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Koeman talks Carles Alena, Ansu Fati and Antoine Griezmann ahead of Athletic clash

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The latest from the Barcelona boss

SD Huesca v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Ronald Koeman belatedly faced the press on Tuesday to discuss his team’s trip to Athletic tomorrow in La Liga.

The Barca boss discussed Carles Alena’s future, offered updates on Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto and also spoke about how his team can be more clinical in front of goal.

Here are the best bits:

Koeman on Athletic changing manager

I think they can have a new system, it’s a new manager but it shouldn’t change that much because it’s just two days training. They always come out to play at home. They played 4-2-3-1 recently, Marcelino has played more 4-4-2 but we have to be prepared.

Koeman on Covid

We are relaxed. There are things we can’t control. It’s true yesterday they called me because two members of our staff came back positive. We had to suspend training and take the PCR again. Thank goodness everything was negative so we were able to prepare for the match tomorrow.

Koeman on Alena

It’s true that he has permission to not train and to look for a possible new team but things aren’t completely wrapped up. He’s a player for the future but he needs more minutes.

Koeman on away form

We’ve lost more points away because of the way we’ve finished these games. We need to play the same as we do at home, dominate the game, create scoring opportunities. We’ve made more individual mistakes away from home which is why we’ve been conceding. We haven’t been as clinical on the road.

Koeman on Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto

It’s very difficult to put an exact date on when Ansu might be back. It just creates pressure. He’s a young player and needs to recuperate correctly. Sergi Roberto we think it might be around the end of the month but I can’t say exactly when. I think they’re both on the right path and I hope we have them back shortly.

Koeman on January transfer window

Of course managers look to improve the team. The only thing I’ve done is to create a plan of people possibly leaving and people it might be possible to bring in. If it’s possible great, if not we’ll continue with what we have.

Koeman on how Barca can be more clinical

It’s not something we can really practice because training sessions between matches are to recover and prepare for the next game. We only play 11 vs 11 for a few minutes. We prepare, we work on finishing and shooting but it’s not for very long because we don’t want to tire out the players because there’s so many matches. It’s about the confidence of each player. Goals are not just for strikers. We can score from set-pieces, midfielders can score, but as far as being clinical we need to improve that.

Koeman on Sergino Dest

It seems he’s had a couple of ups and downs during games. He started off strongly, but I think that’s a lot to do with his age. He’s 19, he’s come to a big club and players need time to adapt. Players have to make some mistakes and correct them and work on their concentration, their focus, on being aggressive in defense and that’s one of his big qualities. I’m not disappointed at all about him having ups and downs. He’s a young player, that’s completely normal.

Koeman on Griezmann

I’ve spoken with him a lot. I really like him. He’s really open. He likes to talk, he likes to talk about the games and if we played with three midfielders we have to find the best formulas with the forwards. We have Leo, we have Dembele who’s been getting better physically, so it’s important because he’s a player who gives us depth in attack. I can’t play every player.

Koeman on how to kill off games

The easy answer is to score a second goal. If we do, we would have no problems in the final stretch with long balls. We are not a team that defends this type of action well. If we kill the games off our rivals will not be able to fight for points until the end.