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Ronald Koeman: Our opponents had more fear when Messi was here

The Barcelona boss has reacted to the 1-1 draw at Athletic

Athletic Club v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has offered his thoughts on Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Athletic and admitted teams have less fear of the Catalan giants now Lionel Messi is not around.

The visitors left San Mames with a 1-1 draw, after Memphis Depay struck a late equalizer, but were second best for much of the match against Marcelino’s men.

Koeman said he didn’t want to talk about Messi but then ended up talking about his former captain anyway.

“I don’t like to always talk about the same thing, but we’re talking about the best in the world. Our opponents had more fear when Messi was here,” he said.

“For us as well, if you pass the ball to Leo, usually he won’t lose it. You can tell [Messi] isn’t there. We know that and we can’t change it.”

Inigo Martinez put Athletic ahead early in the second half but Barca did manage to salvage a point thanks to a superb effort from Memphis and Koeman felt it was a fair result.

“The pressed us a lot and well. We need to know when we can play short, from the keeper as well. We weren’t calm enough in the first 15 minutes,” he added.

“I think a draw is a fair result, we had chances to win, Athletic were at a very high level. Playing like that, this is a very tough ground, so I can’t be unhappy with the result.”

Source | Marca

The results leave Barca with four points from two tricky opening games against Real Sociedad and Athletic. Next up for Koeman and Barcelona is a visit from Getafe on Sunday, August 29.