Ronald Koeman and Philippe Coutinho attended the pre-match press conference for the FC Barcelona vs Juventus match on Tuesday the 8th of December.
Phil Coutinho went first in the line of questioning,
“Is tomorrow’s game a chance to turn the page?”
To this he responded, “Tomorrow is a big game and when you come from a defeat, you always want to win a game like this”
“Were you hurt by criticism for what it cost?”
“I am the first to demand a lot from myself, I know that the performance was not what was expected, and being at Barça means there’s a lot of scrutiny. I can say that I have worked a lot mentally to be well and today, I consider myself a lot better in this regard.”
On how feels about seeing Neymar and Messi together again
“I don’t know what will happen next year, I can only talk about our moment, about me. Of course, you always want to play with the best and we think the same here”
What has the team changed from 2 years ago to now?
“We are in a process of renewal. The coach has changed, some players who were important pieces and all this part of the renewal process. You have to be patient and those of us who are here do our best so that this changes everything, as fast as possible.”
How the Renewal is going?
“After a defeat there is always frustration, but I see the team eager to change this. I am stronger and I see the team eager to change this.”
On if he feels more comfortable in the 4-2-3-1
“I work to perform where the coach puts me, the one who decides is him, but I feel better, more focused.”
On what the team must improve to win titles
“We are in a renewal process, you have to be patient, but the players want to improve the details that don’t go well. Internally, we talk a lot with the coach and with each other.”
On how has his football changed since he broke from Barca?
“I started to change the physical part, I think it was necessary mentally, it is strengthening me and it helped me a lot to have gone through such a bad phase at the beginning.”
That concluded Philippe Coutinho’s part of the conference, then came the team’s coach, Ronald Koeman who answered the next set of questions the journalists had.
On the game against Juventus.
“Our goal is to win and guarantee first place.”
How is Dembélé?
“It’s a shame to lose another player to injury. He noticed something in the second half when he came in, he thought it was nothing, and it’s a step back, considering his history. It’s one more reason why I complain about the match schedules, but if you have a Champions League match on Tuesday, thinking about the Spanish teams, you cannot arrive at 4 in the morning. We are the team that has played 5 matches away from home at 9PM if you play on Wednesday, you have one more day to recover, but not on Tuesday.”
Responsibility for him and the players to be 12 points away from Atletico
“The responsibility is always with the coach because he is the one who puts the team on the field and makes the changes. The maximum responsibility is with the coach.”
Your state of mind
“I am unhappy. You always have to analyze a defeat and there is a difference between losing a game like Saturday’s than doing it on a field like Atletico. You have to see how they mark us, our effectiveness. I am someone who doesn’t do theater, and I don’t hide my anger and I told my players yesterday. Goals that we have conceded in some games simply cannot be accepted.”
Message to players
“For any player who trains or plays, it is a responsibility to be here. What I tell you, stays within. There are no training sessions to improve many things but we have to analyze. We are the team that in general has created five or six clear chances in each game, so you have to find the balance to score more goals and concede less. We have missed too many points for things that we cannot leave.”
“What I want to do is have communication with Leo about things in the game, like any other player and like the other captains that we have and not put energy into the issue because we have no influence, as a coach I have to seek the maximum performance of each player.”
Where to put Pedri
“He has been the player who has played in all the games except Ferencvaros and this, with a 17-year-old boy, is something great. He can play in various positions, depending on the rival, the team’s tactical issue, he can contribute many things because he is a smart player and the smart ones have no problem playing in other positions.”
Changes against Juventus after Cádiz
“We lack the players like Ansu and Dembele on the wings, so we have to look for the best in technical and tactical matters, but also in freshness. Tomorrow is our last training session and then we will give the list, but we will put a strong team because we want to win.”
The two versions of Barça
“The League teams know us better and lock us up more, like Alavès and Cádiz, I’m sure that if we had scored earlier, the result would have been different. The only thing I have said about the match schedules, which hurts to our players, but we have to win the games, there is no other remedy.”
Coutinho feels better in the middle
“Philippe knows that where he likes to play the most is in the middle, but he also knows that if he can play from the wing, he has more freedom. In the squad, there are more players who like to play in the middle, but you have to find a balance, we can’t play with five with 10 and they all play in the middle.”
A leader is missing on the field
“I think we need people in the stands to cheer on our players. Barca have always had more creative players instead of team workers -in allusion to Atletico-. We can take more responsibility on the field, but shout at me I don’t like shouting, nor as a player I did, but we have to take more responsibility on the pitch.”
Messi less decisive than in the past
“Still in our attack many plays come from Messi’s foot. I agree that Messi is being sought as the main culprit because he is the best in the world, but Leo does not make defensive mistakes. They have scored goals that we cannot concede.”
“It’s a a coincidence, Barca plays differently than Juventus, Barca wants to push harder. It has cost them because they are late, but I have no doubt about Pjanic. The decisions are always looking for the best of the team.”
De Ligt’s option to bet on Juventus
“I know him well, he already has his experience despite being young. He may be the best in his place, he is also a very good person. He is in the world of football to improve every day. It is a pity that he is at Juventus and not at Barca, although it is something that happened before I was here.”
Encouragement by Cristiano Ronaldo
It is not a stimulus for an individual player, but because two great teams face each other. It is important that the best teams are always there and Cristiano Ronaldo is still among the elite of our football, because of how he fights and how he scores. You have to defend him well. Because he can do us good and try to have the ball, if we have it, he cannot make us dangerous.”
Do you see in the future two players fighting like Messi and Ronaldo?
“It has been a pleasure to see them compete, they have been the best for the last 15 years. They are different players, but they have fought to score goals, to win titles, it is not a question of who is better. We are going to enjoy the tomorrow two.”
That concluded the press conference.