After a nightmare start to the group, being well and truly humbled by a rampant Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou, Koeman’s men must now try to get their campaign back on track, starting on Wednesday night at the Estadio da Luz.
Barcelona have to be realistic
Speaking to the media ahead of his side’s trip to Lisbon to face Benfica, Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman had a message of caution and realism, with a reminder of where expectations should be for the Blaugrana in the Champions League this season. After a nightmare start to the group, being well and truly humbled by a rampant Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou, Koeman’s men must now try to get their campaign back on track, starting on Wednesday night at the Estadio da Luz. Still, the Dutchman is pessimistic about his team’s chances of competing for the trophy this season. “We have to be realistic, right now, with the changes we’ve had in the team, it’s hard to be at the level of the top teams,” said Koeman.
Ansu Fati was very tired on Monday
In the three LaLiga games since that defeat to Bayern, Barcelona have drawn two and won once. That sole victory, this past weekend, did provide some reason for optimism, however, not least in the return of Ansu Fati. “He was very tired on Monday; emotionally, it took its toll. We have to remember how it can affect the mental side of things with him,” said Koeman. “On Tuesday, he trained without any problems; we’ll try to keep increasing his time; it depends on how he is. We want to give him more minutes, but I can’t say before every game how many minutes he’ll play.” The first goal for new striker Luuk de Jong was another positive against Levante, and Koeman believes there’s more to come from him. “Luuk gives us a lot; he’s different to what we have,” said Koeman.
“He was good the other day; he scored and was important for us. He’s available to play against Benfica, and he has many years of experience of playing for big European teams.” As for whether this game is already done or die for the Catalans, Koeman dismissed the idea, stating that there’s still a long way to go in the groups. “No, it’s impossible that the last 16 is at stake,” said Koeman. “The second game of six can never be decisive.” Barcelona take on Benfica, who Koeman coached in 2005/06, in Lisbon on Wednesday, while Bayern Munich host Dynamo Kyiv at the same time in the group’s other game.