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Koeman talks Pique, De Jong and Messi ahead of El Clasico

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The latest from the Barcelona boss

FC Barcelona v Real Valladolid CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman faced the press on Friday to discuss his team’s big La Liga clash with Real Madrid on Saturday.

The Dutchman spoke about Gerard Pique’s fitness, where Frenkie de Jong might play and the importance of Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele.

Here are the best bits:

Koeman on El Clasico

The team has a lot of confidence, it’s going to be a great match. Real have also improved and we are fighting to obtain the best possible result. The team wants to win La Liga and so yes it’s a very important match.

Koeman on title race

The result will not be decisive because afterwards there are still many matchdays but it’s an important moment in La Liga that’s for sure. We are fighting for top spot and the team that wins will get more of a boost.

Koeman on Pique

Both Pique and Roberto are important players not just for their quality but also for their personality and it’s great they are here for his important match. Both lack rhythm and match fitness but they are excited to help the team.

Koeman on if Pique will play if he’s not 100 percent

For me it depends a lot on the game. Any player needs to be in perfect condition physically and mentally. But there are players, given their experience and personality, who need to be available for these kinds of matches. My job is to pick the best XI that we think can get the best result.

Koeman on Klopp’s comments about playing at Valdebebas

I think that lacks respect for Real Madrid because they decided to remodel their stadium. It’s complicated for players to play without fans, that’s the case in any stadium. We know we have to play there and we won’t think much more about it. I’m sure the pitch will be great and that’s the most important thing.

Koeman on form

It’s a different type of match, there is a lot of external interest. We are in good form and Madrid is always Madrid. I don’t agree with people who criticise Madrid so much. They are a good team with a great coach. It’s going to be an interesting match and both teams know the importance of winning.

Koeman on De Jong’s position

The good thing about Frenkie is that he can play different positions. He has so much value when he plays as a defender because with the ball we can come out better. He’s shown as well that he can cause damange in the opponents’ half. We’ll chat tomorrow but he’s a player that I know I can put in various positions.

Koeman on Ramos being out

It’s an important loss for sure but we have them too. Pique and Roberto have been out, Ansu and Coutinho are missing. Ramos and Varane are two important players and it will be important for them but against Liverpool they showed they have other players who can fill in.

Koeman on Messi

Hopefully tomorow he will be decisive for us. We need the best Messi, but also the best Barça.

Koeman on Dembele

He’s a player with a lot of quality, he’s very fast, he can play with both feet, he plays high up the pitch. For us of course he’s important and the important players need to be ready tomorrow.

Koeman on referee change

It’s true that maybe sometime we talk too much about the ref. Any ref is honest and tries to call what he sees. As Barca we need to rely on ourselves and not look at the ref, he does the best job he can.

Koeman on Ramos’s future

I think the best thing for our league is for the best players to stay here until the last minute they can play. You can’t compare Leo and Ramos because one is a defender and one is an attacker. Both players have been incredibly important to their teams. Hopefully Ramos stays at Madrid and Leo stays with us.