Barcelona Interviews Press conferences

Koeman: “I never think about my future before such a game, but about aligning the best team”

Ronald Koeman at the press room / Miguel Ruiz
Ronald Koeman at the press conference / MIGUEL RUIZ (FCB)

Barça manager Ronald Koeman and goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen addressed the press on Friday, ahead of the Copa Del Rey final on Saturday, where Barcelona face Athletic in their pursuit of the double this season.

Ronald Koeman discussed about the team dynamics and the potential threat that the rivals possess. Here’s what the Barça coach had to say:

On the final against Athletic

“We are two teams that have suffered a lot to reach this final, they are a very competitive side and it will be the fourth time we play against them this year. They beat us in the extra time of the Super Cup, we have to be fine with and without the ball. If there is one aspect that we have lost in recent games, it is the game without the ball.”

On Pique

“Piqué was called up but he had just arrived for the game against Real Madrid, only with three training sessions. He has trained without problems and he can play tomorrow.”

On his future in the club

“We have improved since the Super Cup final. We played 19 league games without losing until last week, when we lost an important one. I never think about my future before such a game, but about aligning the best team.”

On the system for this game

“The approach is always the same, with three or four defenders, but we want to dominate the game and create chances. And when we lose the ball, we have to be very well. The important thing is that we demonstrate the energy we have, we need our players who can make a difference.”

On the ratification of Laporta

Laporta has shown me his trust. Every time something comes out in the press about the coach, it is not necessary for the president to show his trust. I know that I am in the club and despite the economic difficulties, it is a final and you have to win it, the rest does not count.”

On the approach for the final

“There are no secrets when you play three times against the same opponent in a short time. We know the players and the systems, they are fighters and strong on set pieces. We have to be better positioned defensively when we lose the ball than last week.”

On the advice to the young players

“We need all the players well for tomorrow, we have some players who have played and won many finals and they must help the youngsters. To mature, you have to win finals and you have to lose them, as happened in the Super Cup.”

On Leo Messi

“I don’t see him being especially motivated, Leo is a great player, he is professional in training every day. He always gives his best and wants to improve. He knows how to prepare for important games and he is also going to give his best to lift the Cup.”

On the team playing with intensity

“You don’t have to motivate the players before a final, they know what they have to do, but you have to put in a lot of energy. In the last two games we have lost a little energy without the ball, maybe after the international break, but it is not an excuse. We have to be at our best level to win.”

On Athetic being strong from set pieces

“The set-piece play is one of their strengths, they are strong in that regard. But we must not make useless fouls in danger zones, we have to learn from the experience of the games we have played against them.”

On how this will be different from the Super Cup final

“We always attack with many players, but you have to think about what happens if we lose the ball and to be well placed. The quality of this team is to be hungry to attack, if the defense is well organised.”

On his preparations for the final as a coach

“You cannot compare being a coach and a player. As a coach you are responsible and as a player you are one of the 20, it is totally different. You can compare the moment of the game that has happened to us and that has cost us, it is to enjoy. When you are a Barça coach they always ask you to win because we are a winning club.”

On Muniain being doubtful for the final

“Muniain is an important player for Athletic, but they are a strong team, with good defense and many attacking threats. We have to be very attentive.”

On his future

“That after 19 league games in a row without losing they ask you about your continuity for having been defeated in one shows the pressure with which people live at this club. It is rare to have to answer these types of questions. I know what can happen if I win and if I lose, but it is strange to always answer these questions.”

Ter Stegen also discussed about the team’s performances and the recently concluded Clasico. Here’s everything the Barça goalkeeper had to say:

On the cup final

“It is an opportunity to win a title, obviously we have the Spanish Cup final from a few months ago in mind and we hope it will not happen to us again. Until the 90th minute we were better, but we noticed the fatigue. This time we will not have the fatigue from the 120 minutes of the semifinal. We are prepared.”

On Athletic, the rival

“We are going to prepare as always to go out on the pitch and win, we are very excited to win this game and a title.”

On the overview of the season

“It is a final and we see it regardless of what happens in the rest of the league. If you win the game, you have very good feelings, if you lose it will be bad.”

On the opportunity of winning a title

“We never get used to winning titles, that’s a very big effort, it means being 100 percent in a full season. The effort we made to get here was worth this final and we are going to give it our all.”

On who the favorites are going into the final

“It is a game which is at 50-50 before the start, but if we do our job we have very good chances of winning and taking the title to Barcelona, ​​which is the goal. We have to play a complete game.”

On the importance of the title

“We are not going to think about what comes after the final (the League), but only about tomorrow. But it is true that it can give us a push for what is coming.”

On if the international break hurt Barça

“After the international break it was a bit difficult for us, but it was important to beat Valladolid and in a Clasico, anything can always happen. In the second half we did well and made a good effort, but we have to do it for 90 minutes. The break interrupted us a little, but we have already done several training sessions and we are good for the final.”

On the young players and captaincy

“I do not give much importance to the armband. Not because of lack of respect, but because this is a team with a lot of personality. When things go wrong, the team has to have personality and when things get difficult the players who have been with them for more years have to try to help the youngsters with whatever it is because they will carry it for many years. It is little effort that goes a long way.”

On the importance of the Copa del Rey for him

“Playing these games is special, I take these moments with me for a lifetime. It’s what one wants to experience as a footballer and I was waiting for the moment to be here again.”

On if it will be a failure if Barça don’t win

“Failure? Athletic goes for everything too, it will be an even match. If we don’t win we will be sad, but we hope that is not the case. Knowing that the situation got nervous on the previous occasion, something that sometimes happens. But now we are more relaxed at the club and we are all going in the same direction. Young players are playing this season. I am proud of them and of the group. There have been many changes in the last season.”