Ronald Koeman spoke to reporters on Tuesday to preview his team’s Copa del Rey quarter-final clash against La Liga rivals Granada.
The Barcelona boss offered an update on Ansu Fati and Gerard Pique, talked about Antoine Griezmann’s form and Samuel Umtiti’s return to fitness.
Here are the best bits:
Koeman on Granada
It will be different from the league game because the cup is different. We have both played many games and it is a moment that physically we will have to be well to play our game. We expect a difficult match.
Koeman on Todibo
Like I said the other day, Todibo was not part of my plans and we tried to find another team for him because he did not play at Benfica. He’s a player who needs to play.
Koeman on Messi contract leak
I think it’s absurd we’re still talking about this issue three days on. The team and Leo responded in a way that I like, trying to leave things that come out in the press to one side and focus on football. I’m very happy with the team and how we are working.
Koeman on the spirit in the dressing room
It depends on the results. Wins help, they allow us to have a good mood in the dressing room. On the other hand, external factors can help unity. We need to get motivation from other factors because we are playing with no fans. We need to stay strong in these delicate moments.
Koeman on if Copa is more important than La Liga now
No, it’s not more important. Any match is important because we’re Barca. But it’s true the Copa is closer to us. We have less matches to play, we have it within our reach although we have a complicated match ahead of us. Atletico are very strong, it’s not normal they are so many points ahead, but we are going to try and win our matches and hope Atletico drop points and that’s all we can do.
Koeman on Pique and Ansu
In Gerard and Ansu’s case, the most important thing is they recover from their injuries. Hopefully, they can participate in these matches, but I can’t say because they are still recovering, so we’ll see. We know that we want to have all the players available for these important matches. I hope for the best with these two because they are very important.
Koeman on Umtiti
I think Samuel has improved a lot with regards to his physical abilities. He recovered well and obviously is playing minutes and matches. He’s training without any problems, so he’s available, but these are decisions I need to make. It’s good to have competition.
Koeman on Sergi Roberto’s best position
He can play both positions. I think Sergi played at the start of the season most matches at right-back, very well, but we know he can also play in the middle. There is competition in both positions and it’s up to me to decide where he plays.
Koeman on resting players
It depends on the physical state of each player. I wouldn’t place more importance on the game tomorrow than what’s coming up. We want to continue in this tournament and reach the semi-final and win things, that’s the most important thing. If there’s a player who isn’t 100 per cent he won’t play.
Koeman on Griezmann form
I think Griezmann has been good the whole season, working very well. The first thing a player needs to do is work, sacrifice himself for the team. What counts as well is his effectiveness in front of goal. There are moments he should have scored and didn’t but these are things forwards go through. Sometimes the ball goes in easier than other times. right now he’s very good, he’s helping a lot and he’s in excellent shape.