Tomorrow, FC Barcelona face Atlético de Madrid, with the latter side currently nine points above the Catalans in the league table. Barcelona’s head coach, Ronald Koeman, held a press conference ahead of the coveted fixture.
Playing against Atlético Madrid: “It is a difficult game, against an opponent who is difficult to play against, with a great coach. They have their down sides, but so do we.”
About Messi-Griezmann: “I can understand that Leo was angry. After such a long trip, they ask him about Antoine, I think it is disrespectful. I understand that on your (media’s) part, it is to seek controversy, but in the dressing room, I have not seen any bad relationship between the two of them.”
On the short time to prepare for the game: “For the big teams, it is a very tight schedule, it is not good to play three games. I understand the coaches of national teams because I have also been one, but I have never risked any player. We have played all the games at 9:00 pm, and I do not understand this, it is not an aid to a big team that has to fight and play every three days. I understand in an Atlético-Barça, that everyone wants to see it, but not the others. Nine at night tomorrow and then again on Tuesday in Kyiv at 9 pm, it is not helping the teams. One has to help the big teams that play every three days and think about the players.”
Suárez’s absence: “Even we have some important players missing. Every coach knows that he can lose his players due to Covid or an injury.”
Fitness of the players returning from international duty: “Everyone has arrived in a good shape, except Busquets, but there is fatigue from the traveling. They have only done one training session because on Thursday they had to do the test for Covid.”
Guardiola’s renewal with Manchester City: “I’m happy for him, he’s very comfortable at City and wants to continue at the club that wants him. I congratulated him yesterday.”
About Coutinho: “He is doing well, he’s been training for almost a week, and you have to talk to the doctors about the best time for his return.”
10 games in one month, will Puig get a chance?: “Riqui is one of the young people who have to work hard to get minutes [on the pitch]. He is working hard to convince me that he has to have minutes.”
Coutinho’s role in absence of Fati: “He is not a winger but he can play as an offensive midfielder. He is a great player and it is always good to have him because he can play in various positions.”
Atlético Madrid doing well as compared to other seasons: “The quality of Atlético Madrid is that they know how to play in different ways, they are used to playing in one way or another according to their rival, just like Barça. Simeone has done a great job.”
If he would convince Messi to renew: “He still has a year on his contract. In my opinion, he has to stay here, but I’m not the person who has to convince him. Nobody knows what might happen in the future.”
“I have to defend Leo because, after 15 hours of travel, they do a one-hour check on you, and then you find a lot of press asking you a lot of questions. It is incredible what he has done for this club, he is the only person who has to make a decision about his future.”
This concludes Koeman’s press conference ahead of the game against Atlético Madrid.