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Koeman: “I am happy with the work of the players, but not the points we have.”

Ronald Koeman speaking before a La Liga match. (Source: Screenshot, fcbarcelona.com)

Ronald Koeman & Clément Lenglet spoke to the press before Tuesday’s away match against Dynamo Kyiv, where they addressed the lack of center back options, among other things.

Clément Lenglet spoke first. Here’s what he had to say:

“Tomorrow we have an important game to qualify for the round of 16. We come from a defeat. If we qualify tomorrow, the coach will have options to make rotations.”

On possibly being paired with Frenkie de Jong in central defense
“It depends on what we do during training. Now there are not many center backs, so it may be that Frenkie plays as a center back to help the team. It’s more a matter of help than it (center back) being his actual position. When everyone is available, he trains as a midfielder.”

If he is comfortable with Frenkie beside him
“Frenkie is a player with a lot of quality and a great physique, he can fill that position because he also has a great vision of the game. I don’t feel uncomfortable when I play beside him.”

On whether playing in a 4-2-3-1 makes the defense feel insecure
“I don’t think it’s a system problem, because we started the season winning, without conceding goals and with a feeling of solidity. I think we all have to improve the team’s solidity together and work towards that. It’s the most important thing to win.”

On what the team needs to improve defensively
“We need to be more aggressive and attentive, Atleti’s goal was in a key moment for us and we have to improve on that. Not only the defense, but everyone, also the forwards. We have to be stronger and not concede goals.”

On whether Barça need to sign a center back in January
“Gerard’s injury was due to bad luck, he will be out for a while, but I am not the one who decides whether we sign or not.”

On covering less distance on the pitch than the opponents
“It is a bit subjective, because in the Juve game we ran a lot. We are a team that has a lot of the ball, so we do not always run more than the rival, or we do it differently.”

On if he considers himself the leader of the defense now that Piqué is injured
“It is an important loss and it affects us because he has been here for a long time. I feel available and prepared to try to help the team. Now I have been here for two years and I manage the club and the environment better, but then it is the coach who decides who gets to play.

On Barça’s chances to win the league
“Yes, we can win. Lowering our arms now would not be good as professionals and a lack of respect for our fans. We have to continue, reverse this situation and fight for this league.”

If he can see himself playing as the right-sided center back
“It is not my usual position, in terms of positioning it is a little different, but if I have to help the club I will do it with great enthusiasm. I have already played here for some time and I will do my best in that position too.”

Ronald Koeman spoke after Lenglet. Here’s what he had to say:

On what he expects from Dinamo
“Despite their loss in the Camp Nou game, it was difficult for us, so we will have to improve to win the game. They are a good opponent, I’m sure they’re going to play with other players because of the COVID-19 issue, but we’re going with the intention of winning.”

On the absence of Messi and Frenkie from the travelling squad:
Koeman: “Leo does not travel, neither does Frenkie. We felt that both need a break. With nine points in the Champions League we are in a comfortable position and we have to give them rest.”

On the possible return of Umtiti:
“I think that in two weeks we will be able to count on him. He has not played since June, it is a long time.”

On his current feelings
“There is a huge influence on the results and in that sense we cannot be happy, but that does not mean that we have no ambition. Tomorrow is another game, we are one step away from qualifying and we must take advantage of it.”

If he would change his approach
“I am not satisfied, we know our situation, the decisions we have made, but my energy is focused on my work. I am happy with the work of the players, but not the points we have.”

On Araújo & Mingueza
“It is a possibility that Mingueza plays as a starter. We are not going to risk with Araújo taking into account that we have so few center-backs. We cannot risk him.”

On the need to sign a center back
“We know that it is an important loss and for a long time. We are looking and we have been looking for a while. One of those positions is the central defense. Today we can not do anything. If there is any possibility we have to talk to the club.”

On Matheus possibly making his debut
“There is a lot of competition in this squad.”

On improving the team’s current situation
“In general we have to improve, by having more effectiveness offensively, not only defensively.”

On Messi
“He is a very important player for us and he can still give us a lot.”

On the adaptation of Dest
“He’s still adjusting to a big club. He’s working well, and he’s already played a few games and in two positions.”

On the possible departures of Riqui and Aleña
“It’s not January yet, there will be time to talk about it when January comes.”

On the departures of Todibo & Cuenca
“For me it was not a risky situation, Cuenca is young and needs minutes. Since I am the Barça coach, they are decisions that I made with Planes. It is also a question of having a future here.”

If there will be a system chance against Dynamo Kyiv
“We have the 4-2-3-1 system and it isn’t the case that Barça can only play 4-3-3 but depending on the circumstances of the match, we can also play with three midfielders.”

On what is lost with Piqué’s injury
“It is an important loss. He has been here for many years, he has a huge personality and it is a significant loss. It is sad for the team and for the club. It is difficult, but we have to accept and see how we can solve this issue.”

If it is easier now to win the the Champions League than the league
“With the calendar we have, I am convinced that we are going to be higher up the table at the end of the year. We want to get through this group phase and we’ll see what will happen to us in March, but I don’t think it will be easier to win the Champions League because there are many teams and it is an important challenge.”

On managing the loads on Messi and Frenkie de Jong
“Messi and de Jong have played every game, not only with Barça, but also with their national teams, and in the case of Leo, he joins trips to South America. We have to protect the players, it is impossible for the players to be always at full throttle. Everyone knows it, but we have to keep playing a large number of games. UEFA and FIFA must take action because the number of games they have to play is impossible.”

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