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Koeman: “We are going to fight until the last second to win the league”

Ronald Koeman at the press room (Photo by Miguel Ruiz/FCB)
Ronald Koeman at the press conference (Photo by Miguel Ruiz/FCB)

FC Barcelona face Levante on Tuesday at the Estadi Ciutat De Valencia, with just 3 games remaining in the LaLiga title race. Ronald Koeman spoke to the press on Monday, where he talked about the upcoming match, the LaLiga title race, the draw against Atletico and much more.

Here’s what the Barça coach had to say:

On the match against an inconsistent Levante side

“LaLiga is very even due to many things, injuries, the rival. There are difficulties for us but also for others. There are fewer and fewer games left and we are very close.” 

On if the LaLiga title has escaped Barça

“No, we are still there. It is clear that it is different because Atlético is two points higher. We must not think about others, but about ourselves.”

On the draw against Atletico

“There were two different parts. We didn’t do well in the first half and it was difficult for us to create chances. In the second half we were better and we had our chances to score. It was a highly contested match, against a very strong physical team, against a more experienced squad. We played with two 18-year-old midfield players and two 20-year-old defenders. We have to analyze where we come from, we won a title, we’re fighting for another title and there are three games left. In the first half we were not at our level. It is the responsibility of the coach, but tomorrow we have to play.” 

On UEFA’s measures against the Super League clubs

“I don’t know, I cannot comment on this issue, I have not been involved in the Super League or with UEFA. It is not a question of whether or not UEFA is capable of sanctioning, as of today, I am not interested either.” 

On Real Madrid’s complaints about the VAR

“If there is someone who cannot talk about the referees, it is me, I already said what I thought. If Madrid feels damaged, it is their issue. It is true that the coaches and the players do not know when they can be whistled for a foul in the box. A minor contact with the hand, and it happens in all countries, not just here.”

On Barça’s irregularity in the last few matches

“I think the team has been fairly good, the same has happened with the other teams as well. There are many players who have played for their countries, there are many games, and playing on the field without your audience, it costs more because you do not have the help of your fans. That is why we have dropped a lot of points at home, and perhaps that is why we have also gained more points away. The team that arrives stronger physically and mentally is going to win. All the teams are very good.” 

On if Mingueza and Ilaix can reinforce B

“The first team is always the most important. We have not talked about the issue of helping the B team to go up to Second Division. If one day we can help them, as always, we help each other. But we also know that the first team is the most important thing.”

On if he feels underrated 

“No, the people who work with me on a day-to-day basis are important to me, and these people value it. I cannot win a battle with the press, with the people. During many times of the season they have valued me.” 

On Araujo’s evolution

“Ronald was injured for a while, it took him a while to be at his physical level and now that he is fine, he played a great second half against Atlético. It took him a while to get well after his injury. He is having a great season.”

On if he saw the Madrid-Sevilla game

“Yes, I saw the first 20 minutes, and then I saw Milan against Juventus, because I get nervous watching the other teams.” 

On if he prefers to play the games first, like Johan Cruyff

“I don’t care. It depends on the result you get.” 

On Araujo’s willingness to learn

“Yes, we must highlight everyone: Araujo, Mingueza, Pedri, Ilaix. They have taken the opportunities they have had and taken advantage of them. They are the future. We are playing with a lot of young people and that always implies a lack of maturity, but it is very important for the next few years.”

On giving very few minutes to Pjanic and Puig

“If the team is good, I don’t make a lot of changes. Also the tactical disposition is important, but those who do not play have to be prepared for their turn.” 

On if it would be unfair to decide his future based on what happens in LaLiga

“From the first day, the president has shown me his confidence, for me it is not something that I have to be worried about. I signed for two years as a coach and I see myself as a coach next year. We have arranged to speak with the president when the season ends. This LaLiga finale is more important and not my future.”

On if it bothers him that his future is talked about after a bad result

“It is not something that affects only me, it is something that happens to all coaches. I cannot control the press, everyone has their opinion and I have no right to change this. The only important thing is to analyze the season we’ve had with the people I work with. After two weeks, there will be time to talk about the future.”

On his message for the fans

“We are going to fight until the last second to win the League. It is not in our hands, but we do not have to make any more mistakes. We are going to fight until the last second to win it.”