Ronald Koeman gave his usual pre-match press conference on Saturday ahead of Barcelona’s trip to Real Betis in La Liga.
The Barcelona boss talked about the injuries to Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto, Lionel Messi’s future, Antoine Griezmann’s great form and Ousmane Dembele.
Here are the best bits:
Koeman on tiredness
It’s a difficult moment because we’ve played a lot of matches and a lot with extra-time or away from home when you get home late. I think that we can recuperate a lot better when you win than when you lose. Right now we are on a path where everyone is happy and working well. We will decide the team tomorrow.
Koeman on Ansu Fati setback
With respect to him as a player I don’t feel I am the adequate person to talk about his recovery because I have a lot of respect for these types of injuries. When there’s something, we’ll communicate. The most important thing is to recover with peace of mind. He’s got a big future ahead of him and you have to get it right.
Koeman on resting players for the Copa del Rey
I don’t think it’s very good for a coach to say a certain game is more important. The most important game is the next match. We’ll take things day by day. We know we’re in the semi and face a difficult opponent.
Koeman on Pique’s referee comments
I can’t talk about previous years because I wasn’t here. I can only have an opinion on the games we’ve had until now. Clearly, there were certain decisions when we were unlucky. I don’t want to say the refs are against us. I think the ref calls what he sees and we also have VAR. There might be doubts, controversy, like the penalty against Granada, I don’t think it was, but that’s the decision the ref makes. VAR didn’t get involved. I always think the attitude of the ref is honorable and he doesn’t have favorites.
Koeman on Messi
Like I said the other day. I think there is one person who can decide his future and that is Leo Mesi. For us as a club and me as a manager, of course, I want him to stay for many more years. We can try and make him feel good and happy because if he’s happy he gives us a lot of quality that we need. This is a player with incredible talent and I also think his morale is high right now and he gives us good energy. His future is in his hands.
Koeman on Sergi Roberto
I think the first match against PSG yes we have to rule him out which is a big blow for us and the player. We asked him at half-time against Granada and he told me he was good and eight minutes later he injured himself. It’s a big blow. This morning we quickly spoke and I gave him my best wishes and he can get better soon to help the team.
Koeman on Clement Lenglet
He’s a very important player for us. We have a lot of competition in these positions after Umtiti returned. He’s been playing well. It’s good for us all that we have all our central defenders available. Sometimes one is better than the other. Sometimes you give preference to one player who then starts playing well and the other has to wait but we’ll see.
Koeman on resting Araujo
We choose what is best for the player, make sure everyone is available in the best conditions. It’s possible, he has played a lot of games, but we need to confront a complicated week. If there’s a risk then, of course, we’ll rest him but that’s something we need to decide.
Koeman on Dembele
Ousmane I don’t know what happened in previous seasons because I wasn’t here but looking at him this season there are two things. Physically he’s improving a lot and he’s playing a lot of matches now at a very high rhythm and I have no doubt in his quality as a player. He’s a fantastic player who can go one on one, he can play with both feet, I love these types of player. He’s very engaged, very happy, hopefully he can continue. I will help him, giving him more matches, giving him some rest as well in order to get the best out of him.
Koeman on Griezmann
I remember the call that we did when I signed the contract to be manager. I called Antoine and told him I had a lot of trust in him and I tried to transmit over the phone that he would be an important piece of the team. I know at the start he wasn’t as effective as he is now. He’s a player who is very self-critical as well, which I think is very important. He’s also worked very hard to find his best form. As a coach I can’t ask for more.
Koeman on why Neto didn’t play in the Copa del Rey
I think that before in the previous game when I was asked about this I said I wasn’t like the other coaches that allow the second goalkeeper to play in the cup. We talk ahead of every game and we decided that Marc was going to start but now we are in the semi-finals I haven’t decided. We will talk about it, we’ll look at the team and we’ll see. But I’m not just going to say it’s the Copa del Rey so the second goalkeeper plays. It depends on form, attitude, many things.
Koeman on playing twice a week
It is true that the number of games is very difficult for the big clubs in each competition and with this moment of the Covid. You have to communicate with the players to find out how they are doing and sometimes it is possible to give a little rest. We have done it already and we will do it for sure in the future. There are 12 games so far this year and 11 in a row away from home with the Cup next Wednesday. We must help the players. I hope FIFA and UEFA think about the players to reduce the number of games. It is too much and this calendar kills the players but I am not the first to speak about this. We must stop this situation.