Football

Barcelona begins a testing week as Dynamo Kiev and Real Madrid await

Starting fresh: Barcelona cannot afford further stumbles, and Koeman is well aware of the pressure.   | Photo Credit: JOSEP LAGO

Ronald Koeman said his players will benefit from knowing he is staying on as Barcelona coach and his theory will be tested by a pivotal week that starts when it hosts Valencia on Sunday.

After Valencia, Barca faces Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Wednesday before hosting Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season four days later.

Koeman might feel buoyed by the backing of his president, but he will also know the reprieve given to him by Joan Laporta before the international break comes with conditions attached.

Barcelona cannot afford further stumbles against Valencia and Madrid, given they sit ninth in LaLiga after seven games played, already five points behind Madrid at the top of the table, albeit having a game in hand.

And another slip against Dynamo in midweek could spell the end of their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, after defeats by Bayern Munich and Benfica left Barca rooted to the bottom of Group E.

Many believed these matches would be the first for a new coach, after a run of one victory in six games left Koeman looking beleaguered, isolated and out of touch with his president and players.

‘Leaks’

In the press conference before Barcelona's last game against Atletico Madrid, Koeman offered only a little resistance to questions presuming his departure was imminent.

"I have eyes and ears and I know that things are being leaked. They are probably true, but nobody has told me," Koeman said.

Instead, Laporta emerged on the morning of the Atletico game to say Koeman's job was safe and that he would continue regardless of the result at the Wanda Metropolitano, where a few hours later Barca limped to a 2-0 defeat.

"Previously there was no clarity," said Koeman after the game.

"It is very important for the confidence of the coach and for the players too, that they know the coach is still here.

"We are Barca, we have to win games, this pressure is also normal. It exists for any coach but especially at Barca.

"But the president has spoken well. He has made his decision and everything is perfect."


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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 5:59:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/barcelona-begins-a-testing-week-as-dynamo-kiev-and-real-madrid-await/article37014509.ece

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