Ronald Koeman spoke to reporters on Friday ahead of Barcelona’s next La Liga game at Osasuna on Saturday.
The Barca boss spoke about the importance of winning tomorrow, his team’s improving defense and youngsters Ilaix Moriba and Riqui Puig.
Here are the best bits:
Koeman on Osasuna
It’s true that it’s a really important game because we know that Atletico play Real Madrid on Sunday. And one of those two clubs, or both, will drop some points. So tomorrow we will try to win a difficult game away from home. Once again we have to be prepared.
Koeman on three center-backs
I think we can continue with three center-backs because we have more defenders but we don’t have to be obsessed with the system. The most important thing is the attitude of the team. We have improved a lot without the ball, pressing up front and getting the ball back. That’s more important than the system.
Koeman on if he deserves one more season
I don’t know, it’s not my decision. I know I have one more season on my contract. In a few days we will have a new president. And the president must lead the club and we’ll see. For me the most important thing is to focus on games and win them. We know we will play a cup final and have the chance to win an important title. Other things are not in my hands.
People and the media are interested in putting names out there and creating controversy. The most important thing is for me to not get annoyed by it and to focus on preparing the team for the matches we have coming up. So, it doesn’t interest me or annoy me when I hear names like Xavi and others. A new president will be elected this weekend and he will make the decisions. We will talk. I am fed up with these types of questions and have been for a while now.
Koeman on who he wants to win the Madrid derby
We must focus on our game and we have to beat Osasuna. Then, the best result is probably for the leaders to drop points but we can’t be obsessed with that game because if we don’t win then it doesn’t matter.
Koeman on if Barca are stronger than Atleti and Real
I don’t know. This is a long season and all the teams have ups and downs. The team are in good form, they are giving their best, all the players. When we have the ball we play really well, we must continue like this. The other teams, well, I’m just focused on us.
Koeman on Barca’s defensive improvements
I think that we haven’t made many mistakes and the team has been able to press well up front and, of course, in some stages of a game when you play with three center-backs we have more security. We have also been improving at set-pieces, so it’s not just the system, there are other aspects. It’s important to keep clean sheets.
Koeman on possibility of a comeback against PSG
The last results, the comeback against Sevilla, has increased our confidence. Now we have to be focused on tomorrow. We have to go game by game and on Sunday or Monday we will think about Wednesday
Koeman on Ilaix Moriba and Riqui Puig
Ilaix is one of the youngsters that we have. He has played some games with Barca B also, he’s been training with the first team and has had a good impact in some games. There are lots of players in midfeld, so he is one more that can help the squad a lot, like Riqui, he’s also training well. But it’s true we have some youngsters that are fighting to get a place.
Koeman on tension after Sevilla match
I think these are things that can happen in a game. I remember myself after the first leg, the ref didn’t give a penalty for Alba, and sometimes you get these decisions. We have enjoyed two top games and I think we deserved to qualify but always there are some controversial actions, the emotion of football, and you have to accept the result and keep working hard.
Koeman on what’s he proud of and what Barca must improve
I prefer to answer this question at the end of the season because we still have to improve things. We are still alive in three competitions. I am proud of the good atmosphere in the dressing room which is important. I think we have made some changes and now the team believes in itself and that is important. When I see the team celebrating goals, all the squad together, also the substitutes that probably were a bit angry not to play, for me this was really important. That’s the most important thing, the dressing room to be united in good and bad moments. That’s a good sign that makes me feel proud.
Koeman on the double
We know we have the final, we are close to winning a big title but it’s difficult. We are several points behind Atletico and we can’t lose any more points. It’s difficult because we have so many games to play. We have 8-9 players who are playing more minutes than any players in Europe. What the team is doing is incredibly good. Let’s hope at the end of the season we can say ok we had some problems but we did the best we could and we won a title. That would be great.