The regime of Ronald Koeman in Barcelona is exactly not how he had expected – it has been a rollercoaster ride.
Four defeats in ten games, two less than in all of last season, mean that the start to the domestic campaign has been the worst in 33 years, since 1987/88, when the team ended the season sixth.
The numbers aren’t in favour of Koeman, with the trust in him diminishing with each passing game and just 14 points from ten games in La Liga.
The team has already started to say goodbye to any hopes of the title, 12 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, which seems insurmountable even with so few games played.
The latest defeat against Cadiz has stunned Koeman and Barca, which also indicates, Koeman has been unable to bring tranquility to the team as is required at this time under great pressure, without a president until elections in January, in the middle of an economic crisis and with question marks surrounding Lionel Messi.
But Koeman has to move on.
The next challenge would be facing the Italian giants in the Group Stage of the Champions League.
Progression to the knockout phase is already secured for Los Clues, yet they will be looking to confirm the top spot in the group by avoiding defeat to the Italian giants. Again, it would be a huge boost for the Catalans after the defeat against Cadiz.
“Our goal is to try and win and win well, we want to be the top of our group in the Champions League,” Koeman admitted in his pre-match press conference, which has been posted at Marca.
“I don’t act; if I lose then I’m pissed off and that’s what I have told the players in yesterday’s meeting.”
“Being at Barcelona means you can’t accept the goals we’ve conceded in several games this season.”
The injury to Dembele is another blow for Barcelona.
“It’s a shame to lose another player to injury,” he added.
”He noticed something on the second half but didn’t think it was too much of a problem, this is a step backward because he has improved physically.”
“We know that he has a past with injuries, but he wants to recover and this is one more reason why I will continue to complain about the match schedules, I don’t understand it.”
Whilst rumours continue to swirl about Lionel Messi’s future beyond the 2020/21 season, Koeman is clear that communication with the Argentine is the key.
“What I want is to have communication with Leo about things in the game, things which happen in matches, this is the same with any coach and captain,” he confirmed.
“As a coach, I always look for the maximum performance out of each player, Leo is very important in our attacks, a lot of moves start at his feet.”
“I don’t think he has made mistakes, and yes I agree with him that he is blamed for a lot of things”.
Koeman is expecting fireworks in Camp Nou, as two all-time greats prepare to rekindle their long-running rivalry, but the Braca boss says there is little to choose between the pair when it comes to greatness.
“It’s fantastic that these two players have been so long at this top-level in the world,” said the Barcelona boss at a pre-match press conference.”
“They are the best players, in my opinion, in the last 10-15 years. Being successful all this time is incredible. It’s a great compliment to those players.”
“They are different, but they have incredible stats about scoring goals, hat-tricks, about winning prizes.”
“It’s not nice to say who is better because both are incredible; I admire both players because they gave us so many nice evenings with great goals, with great titles. Let’s hope we can enjoy them tomorrow night.”
“For us, it is not an extra motivation because of an individual player.”
“We always thought of this as an important match with two big teams meeting. The two teams are going to fight for the first position in the group.”
“It’s always important the best players are there. I think Cristiano Ronaldo is still one of the best, he always scores and always fights.”
“Because of his daily work, he is still in the elite in our sport. It’s a great compliment to him. Not just any player can do that.”
“We have to defend well against him and when we have the ball that danger goes away.”