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Koeman: “Saying ‘what a character’ can’t be the reason for my sanction, it is something personal”

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

FC Barcelona face Atletico Madrid on Saturday in what could be a title defining week in La Liga. Ronald Koeman spoke to the press before the match, where he talked about Saturday’s match, the dinner at Messi’s house, his sanction and much more.

Here’s what Ronald Koeman had to say:

On the match against Atletico

“We are two very good teams, we fight with two more teams. The style of each team is different, but there are more ways to win matches. The team that as a whole is mentally strong, and speaking of ourselves, we must be good with the ball. Atlético closes well and our game in the last part of the field must be very good to create opportunities and be effective.”

On his message to the dressing room

“During a season, there are times of ups and downs in any team. Three months ago we did not expect to be able to fight for the league title. It is a day to take an important step and we have to be mentally strong to face this game. To be well, play well, aggressively when we don’t have the ball. We are convinced that we will play a good game.”

On if Saturday’s game will be decisive in the race for the title

“I do not think the final result is decisive. For us and for others, but it is very important, of course, because there are few days left.”

On La Liga opening a case against the dinner at Messi’s house

“This is not the time to talk about food at Messi’s house. I understand the question, but we have to be focused on the game.”

On his two game sanction

“I think it’s important to be in the game. We depend on the committees and I don’t know why it lasts so long. I wasn’t there for the Valencia match, but we have a good staff. We’ve been around for a long time and our ideas are the same.”

On Luis Suárez’s return to the Camp Nou

“It will be something strange for the player himself and for the players of our team too. We are professionals and each one does the best for his team. We don’t have to go around and focus on one player. We have to think about how we can cancel his game, how we press, where we have to be vigilant…”

On whether he thinks Barça have to win everything

“To be champion you have to win everything. I have not changed my mind from week to week. If we win all four games, I am convinced that we are going to be champions.”

On Ansu Fati and his surgery

“I have not spoken with Ansu yet. I spoke with him before his trip. He was speaking with the doctor yesterday afternoon. We have given him encouragement. The poor boy has been out for a long time. Now the most important thing is that he’s going to be fine. He’ll be with us, too bad it’ll have to be next season.”

On Dembélé

“I am counting on everyone. These are technical decisions. He can be there and we need all the players. Tomorrow we will put in the team that we think is best to win the game.”

On the mental aspect being more important tomorrow than the physical aspect

“There is no one thing more important than the other. Each team has its own style of play. Our style is different and is to get the most out of it as a player and as a team. You have to take advantage of space, depth… and when we lose the ball to be very close. It is never a single thing.”

On if Real Madrid’s defeat in the Champions League will influence LaLiga

“I don’t think so. These are things that you have to accept and you have to follow. I don’t think it influences you.”

On Messi’s tactical knowledge

“I know that Messi has been around for many years. In the summer I already realized that he has an interest in the team’s tactics. He has a lot of quality, but he also thinks about other people’s football, how the team can perform.”

On if he expects a more open game from Atletico

“In some games Atletico have gone to press more. We have to be prepared. Each team has their own qualities, their way of being. We know that Barça has always been an attacking team. You have to be faithful to yourself. We will not change. Surely Atletico will be very close when they don’t have the ball and we have to be very good with the ball to take advantage of the moments we have.”

On how he is planning for the next season

“The best thing is for Messi to stay. You want to continue with the best in the world. Of course we are talking about the preseason, the signings, the needs of the squad. I do it as all other coaches are doing.”

On how he has prepared for such an important match

“This week has not been different. You analyze the opposition and we have held talks about the opposition today. We do not have to do anything different because everyone already knows the importance of tomorrow’s game.”

On Mateu Lahoz officiating the Barça-Atletico game

“It is better not to talk about the referees because in general the federation puts the best for these games. I expect him to get the decisions right. You don’t have to think too much, you have to think about yourself. Hopefully the decisions are fair for all.”

On if he thinks there was something personal about his expulsion against Granada

“I do feel that it is something personal. Saying “what a character”, I don’t think it is insulting. It is not a reason to sanction for two games. So yes, there is something else.”