Ronald Koeman spoke to reporters on Tuesday ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League clash with Ferencvaros in Hungary.
The Catalan giants are already through to the knockout stages of the competition which means Koeman has decided to leave Lionel Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Philippe Coutinho out of his travelling squad.
Koeman spoke about his decision to rest Messi, Barca’s injury problems and the form of Martin Braithwaite ahead of the match.
Here are the best bits:
Koeman on Ferencvaros
The most important thing is qualifying which we have now done. The mentality has to be that of Barca which is always to keep winning matches and play well. If we win that’s good, if we lose that’s a problem.
Koeman on resting Messi
Firstly it’s not something that’s common. In this season’s calendar there have been some moments when Leo can rest. For me that’s the match against Kiev and also tomorrow because now we are qualified and that influences my decision. Saturday’s match is very important for us and our position in La Liga and of course we want to win. These are two moments for Leo to rest and after that there won’t be any more opportunities.
Koeman on Araujo and Umtiti
Umtiti is close to a return. We’ve got a match tomorrow for him with Barcelona B which he can play. Araujo has trained part of the session with the group today but we don’t want to risk his recovery because he’s not yet 100%. He has a little bit still to go. If he isn’t with us against Juventus, he will surely be there in the next game.
Koeman on Pique
I speak with Pique every day because he’s at the training ground to work with us and to improve but I’m not a doctor and I don’t have any influence on his final decision about whether to operate. The doctors are there for that and Gerard. We have to think of the best way for him to recover from this injury. I don’t know when we’ll be able to count on him but I hope he’ll be back for some games this season.
Koeman on Messi’s yellow card vs Osasuna
We know the rules of taking off a shirt is a yellow card. On the other hand everyone knows why he did it to remember Diego Maradona and I think we need to understand that. But it’s not my decision. If it was mine obviously i wouldn’t.
Koeman on Braithwaite
We’ve tried to see in the matches who are the best attackers to put on the pitch. It’s an important position. For the work that Martin is doing, he deserves to play. There are matches in La Liga where we need a No. 9 more than in other matches. We look at the opposition and the players we have available. He’s working well and he deserves to play.
Koeman on injuries
For me it’s just bad luck. We’ve spoken in the pre-season about our squad and also about the economic situation which has had an influence. We have to use who we have and give opportunities to youngsters like Araujo and Mingueza. There’s always a reason for us to give opportunities because they are the future and if we can’t improve by signing new players or there’s no money we have to give chances to younger players.
Koeman on Todibo returning in January
I don’t know. We have not talked about this.
Koeman on convincing Messi to rest
He’s a player who always likes to play and you need that mentality but every decision I speak to the player and the final decision is always by the coach. It’s only two moments of giving him a rest. It’s for this week and also about our comfortable situation in the group. The rest of the season he can’t rest any more beacuse we play every three days.