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Koeman talks touchline ban, Samuel Umtiti and Barcelona title hopes ahead of Valencia

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The latest from the Barcelona boss

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

Ronald Koeman spoke to reporters on Saturday to discuss Barcelona’s trip to Mestalla to face Valencia in La Liga.

The Barcelona boss spoke about Sunday’s match, the defeat to Granada, his touchline ban and his decision to play Samuel Umtiti on Thursday.

Here are the best bits:

Koeman on Valencia

It’s true that in all the games we always have a lot of possession, we create chances. It’s true that defensively we must improve. For now when we play with three central defenders, our opponents create less danger. It can’t be that we concede two goals against Granada, this is something we talked about. We need to concentrate more, close down spaces. We expect a difficult game.

Koeman on Granada defeat

We were very disappointed because it was a fantastic opportunity to put us ahead in the league. It was also a sign there are no easy matches and you have to be at your best in all of them. We don’t have a lot of time to be depressed, we are still in the fight. Tomorrow is a complicated game. We need to improve. We’ve analyzed things, we’ve talked, and the team is ready.

Koeman on touchline ban

We’re going to appeal this decision because I think it’s an exaggerated suspension. All I said was ‘what a character’ and I got a two-match ban. If I’d insulted more heavily I think it would have been 20 games. We will appeal this decision to show we don’t agree with it. Tomorrow I won’t be on the bench but in the stadium but we’ve talked with the technical staff and we are prepared.

Koeman on how Barca can improve

As a coach, I am always responsible when setting up the team, when you make changes and also in the game. It is a great opportunity that we have missed but I am convinced that if we win the last five games, we will be champions.

Koeman on why the title challengers are dropping points

We need to recognize this is a very strong competition with good teams. The league is so strong because we can see that four teams have a chance to win the title, only three points separate us. All the big teams have so many matches, and we have a lot of players injured as well. You need to be 100% in every match, 100% focused, and if you miss things you pay the price. That’s also the beautiful thing this season, there’s not one team that's completely superior. These are games where everyone has options to win and if you don’t then you lose points.

Koeman on Barcelona struggling physical in second halves?

I don’t agree. I think physically the team is good. When we went ahead what we missed was to kill the game off. If we’d scored another goal I don’t think we would have lost. Also in the game against Madrid we had a chance to draw in the final minutes. So, I think my team was better in the final stretches of the games than our opponents.

Koeman on Umtiti playing vs Granada

It was a technical decision. We had a lot of games and I wanted to make changes. Pedri’s been playing a lot and he needed some rest. Umtiti’s been training well so it was my decision. I don’t think we should fixate too much on the changes we made. It’s impossible to play such an intense season with the same starting XI. I don’t think we changed that much. I might rotate one or two positions but I don’t like to make too many changes. If we’d won nobody would have spoken about the rotations. I have no problem with it but the decision was a technical one.

Koeman on bouncing back

I think it’s a crucial game for us but, at the same time, it’s the same for Atletico and Real Madrid this weekend. But after a loss the most important thing is to win.

Koeman on a meeting with the dressing room heavyweights

I don’t know why you ask this. We all want the best for the club. They have won a lot of things here and don’t get nervous now. I am the manager and when I change things I first talk with the team captains. We have an open dialogue and I ask how they think. In the end it’s my responsibility to make a decision. We talked in this meeting about how it was possible we lost this match. You shouldn't look for more problems.