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Ronald Koeman: I have a squad that I have not been able to change much

Ronald Koeman attending a press conference. (Source: MIGUEL RUIZ//FCB)

Ahead of tomorrow’s away match versus ninth-placed Athletic Club, Ronald Koeman spoke about the upcoming elections, Aleña’s imminent departure, as well as situations where he wants his team to improve.

Here’s what he had to say:

On the change of coach at Athletic:
“He can change the system, but it will not change by much because he has only been coaching them for two days. The influence will not be great. They are a team that always shows their face and likes to run. Marcelino has his history with 4-4-2 and we have to be prepared.”

On the staff members who tested positive for Covid:
“I was calm. There are things in life that cannot be controlled. Yesterday they called me because there were two people from our staff who were positive. We suspended the morning training and had to wait for the afternoon to ensure that there were no more positives. Luckily the tests all came out negative and we were able to train to prepare for tomorrow’s game.”

On Aleñá’s departure:
“Until there is something definitive, I cannot speak. Aleñá has permission from the club to seek a way out. He is a player of the future who has to play and has decided to look for a way out.”

On the possible postponement of the elections:
“I cannot comment on a health issue or the pandemic. However health is the priority and the pandemic must be stopped.”

On when he will see the Barça he wants:
“Little by little we are going to see it. We have tried to move the team forward and prepare it for the championship. We have important players injured and I have a squad that I have not been able to change much. We have to have more time to impose my ideas.”

On what the team is missing away from home:
“It may be that in the last games away from home we have lost more points, but we try to play the same as we do at home. We want to create chances and be dominant, but away we have had more individual errors that have cost us goals and we have not been so effective. Atlético win their games just thanks to their defense.”

On the recovery of Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto:
“For Ansu, it is difficult to set a date for his return. He is a young player who has to recover well. Sergi Roberto could be available at the end of the month. Both are on the right track and hopefully we can have them back soon.”

On whether he wants signings:
“Any coach looks at the month of January thinking about improving the team. What I have done is make a plan of exits and possible players to bring. If it is not possible, we will continue with the players we have.”

On whether playing without an audience benefits them:
“It hurts us all to play without an audience. San Mamés is a great stadium to play in with a fantastic atmosphere. Without an audience it’s totally different and you have to be motivated by yourselves and it’s more complicated.”

On what the team are doing to improve their efficiency:
“We cannot train a lot because we have a lot of games. We shoot and finish plays (in training), but it’s all very short. The most important thing is the confidence of the players. The midfielders have to reach the opposition’s box and that is why I was very happy with De Jong’s goal and Pedri’s plays. We have to increase our efficiency.”

On Dest:
“It is true that sometimes he has ups and downs. He started very strong and it is a matter of age. He is 19 years old and needs time to adapt. He has the right to make mistakes and improve his concentration and aggressiveness. I am not disappointed, he is a very young player so it’s normal.”

On Williams, Muniain and Raúl García:
“They are three great players. Williams is a fast forward, with a goal in him, Raúl García is a fighter who does very well up front and Muniain is a player who always wants the ball. They can cause us danger.”

On whether Barça misses Suárez:
“I don’t like answering questions about Suárez, because he’s not our player. I respect him and we have our forwards.”

On Griezmann:
“Antoine knows his place and I have spoken with him several times. He likes to communicate what he has to improve. If we play with three midfielders we have to find the best attacking formula. I like him a lot, but I have to make choices. There are a lot of games and you can’t always play with the same players.”

On closing matches earlier:
“The easy answer is to score a second goal. If we do so, we would have no problems in the final stretch with long balls. We are not a team that defends this type of action well. If we kill matches with our chances the rivals will not be able to fight for the points until the end.”

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