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Koeman: “If we win the last five games, we will be champions”

Ronald Koeman during the press conference / Miguel Ruiz FCB
Ronald Koeman during the press conference / Miguel Ruiz FCB
Ronald Koeman during the press conference / Miguel Ruiz FCB

After the disappointing defeat to Granada at the Camp Nou on Thursday, FC Barcelona travel to the Mestalla in order to keep their title hopes alive. Ronald Koeman spoke to the press prior to the match, where he talked about the upcoming match, his two match ban, the defeat against Granada and much more.

On the game plan against Valencia

“In all the games, we always have a lot of possession, we create chances but it is true that defensively we have to improve things. Since we play with three center-backs, they create less danger for us but it cannot be to concede two goals having more defenders than attackers themselves. We have talked about it, we have to be more focused and close more spaces.”

On the talks with the team

“It is true that we were very disappointed. It was a very great opportunity but it shows that there are no easy games and you have to be at your level best. There is no more time to be sad and we are still fighting with the top three. We have to improve things. We have analyzed things and the team is prepared.”

On his two match ban following the red card

“We are going to appeal and it is a very exaggerated sanction for saying ‘what a character’. Two games for this, but if you really insult them, they will put 20. It is very exaggerated and we are going to appeal and say that we do not agree. Tomorrow I will be in the stadium but not on the bench, but we have a well-made technical staff and we have to accept it.”

On the aspects to improve and taking responsibility

“As a coach, I am always responsible when setting up the team, when you make changes and also in the game, but nothing else. It is a great opportunity that we have failed but I am convinced that if we win the last five games, we will be champions.”

On the heavyweights in the squad

“There are very experienced players and they must help under pressure circumstances. There are teams that play so as to not be relegated and we also need players to help young people in the team. There are four or five who are in their first year. It is an experience they need to go through and improve in this regard.”

On any team being capable of defeating any other team in the league

“It must be recognized that it is a strong league and there are very good teams. It shows, with up to four teams fighting to win the league with three points between them. If you don’t play well, because the major teams have more injuries due to the number of games played, it pays dearly. There are moments in the game when you lose points if you are not at your best. It shows that the league is very strong.”

On the team’s physicality going down in the second half

“I do not agree with this. Physically the team is fine. When we have gone ahead on the scoreboard, we have lacked sentencing. If we had scored a second, we would not have lost to Granada. There are examples wherein we were better in the second half, like in Madrid, when we were able to get one back. For that reason, I don’t agree.”

On his centre-back system for the next season

“The important thing today is not this, but the games that remain. I am not going to talk about the system for next season. It is a good question but not important today.”

On the decision to start with Umtiti against Granada

“It was only a technical decision. We had many games and changing two players is not much. Pedri has played many games and he needed a break. If not, he won’t hold out until the end of the season. Umtiti is training well and these are decisions we make. He has played games in which we have won. You don’t have to look in this sense. It is impossible to have such an intense season always playing the same players. We didn’t change much either. It was two positions and I don’t like to change much more. If we had won, no one would have talked about the changes.”

On how he would take decisions on the field since he’s sanctioned

“I have to know what is possible and what is not. I will speak with Carlos Naval. If I am not on the bench, I will be in the stands to see if it is possible to have contact with the bench.”

On the errors against Granada

“There is danger when you think that you are far superior. The percentage of possession was very high. The two goals were from lack of concentration. It was not due to lack of players in the back but rather because of how to put the body or avoid a pass. We have talked about occupying better positions in defense.”

On lifting the team up again

“It is a crucial game tomorrow but also for Atlético, Real Madrid and on Monday for Sevilla depending on the results. We speak up and after a defeat you have to win.”

Talk with the veterans and possible miscommunications

“I don’t know why you ask like this. We are people who want the best for this club. They have won a lot of things here and we don’t get nervous. I’m a coach who when he changes things and the system, I always talk to the captains. We have an open dialogue, I ask how they think and in the end I decide. We talk about how we could lose the game and that’s it. We don’t have to look any further.”

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