BARCELONA – Ronald Koeman expects the best version of Lionel Messi and called on his players to maintain “personality” in a Clásico against Real Madrid, which, he warned, “will not be decisive in the League because there will still be many games left” but, he admitted, it would mean a “moral” boost for the winner.
Messi, who will equal Sergio Ramos with 45 Clásicos, can be, as so many times, the differential element and the Dutch coach was not absent from this, who expressed his confidence in the captain: “I hope he will be decisive again. Of course I wait for him to better Messi because we need the best Messi … But we also need the best Barça “.
The Barcelona coach, optimistic about the match, preferred not to enter into the arbitration issue, both because of the controversy experienced since the match against Valladolid and because of the change of referee decided this Friday, and declared that for him “it should not matter. “.
“Perhaps we talk too much about the referee … Any referee is honest and whistles what he sees. And, furthermore, there is the help of the VAR so it shouldn’t matter much”, revealed Koeman, who ruled that “Mateu is very good The referee and who will whistle tomorrow is also … We have to be aware of ourselves, of our game, and not think about the referee. “
“Tomorrow’s game is very important but it will not be decisive,” agreed the Barça coach, highlighting that his team “is confident about the good results and the track record we have, fighting for the maximum and that is winning the League. There will still be many days to go that will be difficult for everyone but it is true that at this moment, fighting for first place, the result will be important for morale. “
The importance of scoring first was not neglected by Koeman, who warned that when “we get ahead on the scoreboard we force the opponent to open up more, we have the ball better and we know how to play better between the lines. Going ahead makes it easier for us. but they too, who play better and also have a very dangerous backlash. “
In the same way, however, he was proud of his team for the statistics that show his goals in the last minutes of the games, highlighting that “scoring at the end is not luck, it is mentality, believing that you can still win the game and be strong. “
“A Clásico is always different from other games. There is a lot of interest … Barça is fine, confident, because we have an important career and we fight to win but Madrid is Madrid and I think it has had too many criticisms because it continues in the Champions and fighting for the League “, Koeman resolved, contrary to what has been said about the merengue team.” I do not agree with many criticisms they have received because Madrid has a great coach and impressive players, “he confirmed.
“We all know the importance of winning and whoever is better physically, but above all mentally, will have more options,” he said, without giving clues about his plans or venturing whether Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto would enter into his initial plans.
“Both are very important, due to their quality and personality, to be in this game. They lack rhythm but physically they are well and very excited to help the team,” he said, without giving any further clues or in terms of the central defender: “Any player He must be in perfect condition to face such a game although there are some who because of their personality, like him, who is captain, are special ”, he conceded.
“The important thing in this type of game is to have experience, but young people need to play them in order to have that experience. They need the help of the most experienced, that is the important thing,” he highlighted when talking about the youth of several of his men, although , again, without revealing who could enter the lineup.
In this way, he also did not show his cards when referring to Frenkie de Jong’s position. “The good thing about Frenkie is that he can play in different positions and contributes a lot as a center back because we can come out better with the ball … And in midfield he reaches the opposite box well. In both positions he contributes a lot and that is very important. Tomorrow we will decide, ”he stated without further ado.
“Our job is to prepare well, know how to play against any opposing system, press, play well without the ball and be very successful and focused,” he summarized, highlighting that his main occupation is that the team does not lose its “personality. What I ask is not to go crazy because Madrid is in front. To be ourselves, to think that the opposite is a great team but to think of ourselves is the main thing “.
Regarding the losses of Sergio Ramos and Varane in Madrid Koeman agreed that both “are important losses”, but recalled that in recent months “we have also had them because Piqué and Sergi Roberto were out, Ansu and Coutinho have been for a long time … Sergio Ramos is their captain and he’s very important, like Varane, but against Liverpool it was shown that they have other players who can fulfill that role on the pitch. “
“The difficult thing is to play without an audience. Now they are used to playing in this field and it is not an important issue for me “, cut Koeman when asked about the stage of the match, expressing his disagreement with” discrediting a big club like Madrid for this. They have taken advantage of this. time to do some work in his stadium, and well done ”, he proclaimed, stating that, for him,“ the important thing is that the pitch will be very good to play with ”.
Regarding the memory that he keeps of the Clásico from the first round, that Madrid won 1-3, the Barça coach acknowledged that his team “has improved”, but warned that in that game “we were good, we were better in the first half. but we lost it in the second … with the VAR and the penalty that had an influence “.
“As against any rival that you analyze what you should do, what players you should watch … Madrid plays very well on the counterattack and that is why I think we should do our thing. Not to change because it is Madrid but to continue in our line lately.”
“I expect a lot from Dembélé because he has a lot of quality, a lot of speed, he plays with both legs and must be effective. The one against one he has can be vital for us,” he revealed about the significance of the French forward, ending with a response to Zidane , who expressed in Madrid his hope that Messi will continue at Barça, answering that he expects the same with Sergio Ramos at Madrid “although Messi cannot be compared … One is a forward and the other is a defender, but they have been both very important for their teams and hopefully both will stay in their teams next season. “