Barcelona LaLiga Press conferences

Koeman: “We are going to start the best eleven to get a good result”

Ronald Koeman at the press room / Miguel Ruiz

Ronald Koeman spoke to the press, ahead of the much-awaited El Clásico which is being termed as the potential title decider match as the LaLiga title race continues to heat up. He addressed several concerns regarding the squad, mentality, and the possibility of winning the league amid other things.

This is what he had to say :

On the team’s spirits :

The team is confident, it’s a great game, against a Madrid side that has also improved. We are fighting for the victory and we both want to win the league. Tomorrow’s game is important.”

On whether the Clásico will decide the league :

“The result is not decisive because after tomorrow’s game there will still be many games left, but it is true that the moment is important and it will give the winning team an important morale to continue.”

On Piqué’s return to the squad :

“Piqué and Sergi Roberto are two important players, and not only because of their quality. They are physically well, excited to help the team and it is important to have almost all the players for tomorrow’s game.”

On having issues in playing in the Di Stefano stadium :

“It would be discrediting a big club like Madrid, which has chosen this moment without an audience to do works in their stadium. They are used to playing in this field, rivals have to play there and it is not an important issue for me.”

On if Piqué could play even if he’s not completely fit :

“For me, it depends on the game, the player has to be physically and mentally perfect, but there are players who because of their importance and because they are captain, it is important that they are in these games. We are going to start the best eleven to get a good result.”

On who arrives as a stronger side in this match :

“A Clásico is a different game from the others. We are fighting to win the league after a very good run and so is Madrid. They have had too many criticisms but they are there, I am not in favor of the people who have criticized them so much because they have impressive players. The team that is physically and especially mentally strong has a chance of winning the game.”

On the system :

“It is true that we can play different systems, but we have to focus on our work and on putting pressure on the opponent with any system. We cannot leave spaces to attack, that’s why I say that we have to be ourselves, respecting the opposite, but following the line that we have done lately.”

On De Jong’s position :

“The best thing is that he can contribute a lot in both positions, both as a center-back, kicking the ball out, and in the midfield reaching the rival area. Tomorrow I’ll talk to the players and we’ll decide.”

On if the team has recovered well after the international break :

“The issue of national teams can influence us, just like it can influence the rest of the teams, but this week we were able to rest and talk. Now it is important to be fresh, the top three teams want to win the league, Valladolid has already shown that there are no easy rivals.”

On the absence of Ramos and Varane :

“There are two important casualties, one of them is their captain, who gives them a lot of personality, but we have also had important casualties, Piqué and Sergi Roberto have been out for a long time, just like Ansu Fati and Coutinho, who are still out.”

On the significance of Messi :

“Hopefully, he will be decisive for us. We need the best Messi, but also the best Barça. We need Leo.”

On Barça’s improvement :

“Before the second half in the first Clásico, we had chances to go ahead, then the penalty influenced the result. We have improved things, although it is not true that at that time we were bad, but now we have improved. In effectiveness we have improved, we have changed the system, the team has taken good form and has energy and that is what I ask for tomorrow. To be ourselves even though Madrid is ahead.”

On the importance of scoring first :

“It means that when you get ahead on the scoreboard the opponent has to open up more, while if you go behind on the scoreboard, the opponent closes in behind and it costs more to find spaces. For me, scoring many goals in the last minutes is not luck.”

On the role of Dembele :

“His one on one skills can be vital for us. He is an important player and the important ones have to be there tomorrow.”

On the change of referee :

“Sometimes there is too much talk about the referees. I think that any referee is honest and whistles what he sees and has the help of the VAR. We do not have to be aware of the referee if we focus on our team.”

On Ramos’ future :

“The best thing for our league is that the best players can stay until the end of their career. Hopefully, Ramos will continue at Real Madrid.”

On what has he done right and wrong :

“Any coach needs time and patience to be able to make changes in the team. I changed the system, we lost games that we did not deserve to lose, we have done different things, but the most important thing is that we have worked together and strong, we have very young players and with them, you have to be very patient.”

On the importance of seniority in relation to the youth :

“The most important thing in these type of matches is to have experience , but young people need to play them to have that experience. Young people need help from the most experienced, that’s the important thing.”