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Quique Setien talks Frenkie de Jong, VAR and La Liga title race ahead of Athletic

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The latest from the Barcelona boss

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-PRESSER Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Quique Setien spoke to the press on Monday morning ahead of Barcelona’s next game against Athletic at the Camp Nou tomorrow.

The Barcelona boss remains optimistic about his team’s title hopes despite losing the lead to Real Madrid after their victory over Real Sociedad.

Setien also spoke about Frenkie de Jong’s fitness, the threat Athletic will pose, VAR and his team’s struggles away from home.

Here are the best bits:

Setien on Athletic

Obviously we all know Athletic. They are a tough team, they defend well, the games we’ve played against them haven’t been easy. It’s normal that we would control the game and have the better of the possession but they always have chances. It’s not easy to damage them. You have to be precise and patient. These games are always difficult and it’s tough to predict what will happen.

Setien on the title race

It’s true that we are behind now but we still have the same amount as points. Obviously the margin of error is smaller for us but also for them. They can’t make errors either. We have eight games left and we still have the same objective which is to win every game and be there until the end.

Setien on referees and Pique’s comments

There are things we can’t control and which really don’t depend on us. We try and win games and do what we have to do. In yesterday’s game everybody saw what happened and will draw their own conclusions. As for Pique, he’s always seemed to me very intelligent, not just now but always.

Setien on VAR

It’s a tool we have that could be better. What we have to do is use it so it gives us a much clearer view of reality. Referees have to make decisions quickly and the ideal is to look at them afterwards, and from different angles and with precision. It is understandable that we think that why some actions are reviewed and others are not. In some games yes and in others no, and this is what we can think that it is not being used well.

Setien on the possibility of Frenkie being out for the season

We hope that’s not the case. He has a small injury to his calf but the forecast depends a little on how the injury develops. We’ll sure he will play a game or a few games.

Setien on having a veteran squad

I’m not at all worried about the average age I have, what bothers me is what happens on the pitch. You can have young players who think well but the older you are the better you think. I don’t think it’s a question of distance covered. You have to get things right in situations which deal with thinking better than running more.

Setien on Barca’s away form

It’s difficult to explain. I don’t know exactly what it’s down to. Since we’ve come here our planning has been exactly the same. It’s no different to play home and away. Maybe the opposition come here with more fear and are weakened. There are lots of questions but the way we focus on the game is exactly the same.

Setien on the run-in

I don’t think there’s a great difference between us and Real Madrid. They have to go to San Mames and play some tough teams, just like us. Every game is different. Yesterday Madrid won but could have drawn, just like we did at Sevilla.

Setien on Barca’s morale

The team trained very well today, a little bit of residual tiredness, but they trained very well. We are convinced we can win the league and we’ll be up there.

Setien on Dembele

I spoke last time about this. He’s working, he’s following the protocol he has. I hope he recovers as soon as possible and that we can see him. I don’t know how long it’s going to be until he can train with the group.

Setien on Umtiti

If we decide he has to play, he’ll play. It’s a position I have to take, what each player offers. You have to remember Umtiti was injured for a while and hasn’t been at the level of fitness of the rest. He will have his chance to play just like anyone else.

Setien on Riqui Puig starting

Everything is possible. We try to look towards the future and also look at the present. I think we have four players who are on four yellow cards and with Sergi and Frenkie both out that could affect us if we lose Nelson or Busquets.

Setien on young players and being more pragmatic

In general I’m fairly satisfied within the possibilities we have to improve things. Our ball recovery in the opposition half has improved, possession has improved, chances, there are many things we have improved which maybe don’t allow us to steam roll opposition but that’s another step that depends on the effectiveness you have. Everything depends on winning or losing, scoring or not, a lot of these things won’t be good if you don’t score. Luis Suarez had a chance the other day and if he’d scored everything would have changed.

I still think the same of the young players in the squad. I didn’t say these players would play or not. Those in the first team are maintaining a fairly high level, if I thought young players would do better, they would have more minutes. But that’s a perception I have to have.