Messi's form 'could be better' but Koeman has no complaints about Barcelona captain

By Sports Desk October 19, 2020

Ronald Koeman admits Lionel Messi's form "could be better" but insists he has no complaints about the Barcelona captain's application.

Messi attempted to leave the club during the transfer window but was unable to engineer an exit after something of a power struggle played out in public with president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

He has since affirmed his commitment to the Catalans for at least the final year of his contract, but his performances have not been up to his usual standards in 2020-21.

In four LaLiga matches, Messi has scored just once - a penalty in the 4-0 win over Villarreal last month - and has zero assists.

He has created just six chances, well short of the league-leading numbers of David Ferreiro (22), and only five from open play, eight fewer than Sevilla's Jesus Navas (13).

With 11 dribbles completed from 19 attempts, Messi has a success rate of 57.9, well down on last season's average of 64.3, which further highlights his relative struggle to impact upon Barca's play - a problem that came to a head in their 1-0 loss to Getafe.

However, speaking ahead of their first Champions League group game against Ferencvaros, Koeman made it clear he is happy with Messi's efforts and believes the player himself is feeling positive.

"There is always pressure to win games as a player or coach at Barcelona. We know the club's situation; there are things outside the pitch that we can't influence," he said on Monday.

"What we can do is work with the players to adjust to the new system and we have a lot of new and young people, but we're optimistic about the game tomorrow. I think the best way to think right now is game by game.

"Maybe Messi's form could be better at this moment, but he's happy, he's training well, he's focused, he wants to play and he wants to be captain of the team and he's improving. I haven't got any complaints.

"He also had bad luck with the ball that hit the post and with the final play of the match. Normally, he puts it between the posts! I have no doubt about his form and we'll see that in the coming games.

"I'm not worried because we've scored eight goals in four games and I don't think many teams have done that. It's normal that, against Sevilla and Getafe, it's more difficult to create chances.

"I'm not disappointed with the players. I see a happy team. I can never be disappointed with a player who works their hardest."

Given Barca's 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in last season's quarter-finals, Koeman accepts his side are unlikely to be considered firm favourites for this term's trophy.

However, he is keen to get their campaign off to a strong start in a week that ends with the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou.

"We know that, with what happened last time, we're not the ultimate favourites, but we can go far," he said. "You always play to win games and trophies at Barca, in Spain and in Europe, but there are more favourite teams, like us.

"We want to start the Champions League on the right foot. The most important thing is to prepare for two difficult matches at home that we have to win.

"It's not an easy game and we don't think about resting people for Saturday because Saturday isn't important right now, only tomorrow is."

Related items

  • Mbappe 'liberated' after bringing up PSG century Mbappe 'liberated' after bringing up PSG century

    Kylian Mbappe felt liberated after he ended his wait to move onto a century of goals for Paris Saint-Germain.

    France prodigy Mbappe reached 99 goals across all competitions for PSG when he scored a double against his former club Monaco in a 3-2 defeat on November 20.

    He failed to find the net in three appearances – against RB Leipzig, Bordeaux and Manchester United – before adding gloss to a 3-1 win over Montpellier in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

    With Moise Kean having thumped PSG into the lead in the 77th minute, Mbappe came on to score with his only attempt and wrap up the points for Thomas Tuchel's side in stoppage time.

    The 21-year-old has netted 74 of his 100 PSG goals in France's top flight, with a further 13 strikes coming in the Champions League, though he has not scored in Europe in nine matches.

    His remaining 13 goals have come in France's domestic cup competitions and the Trophee des Champions, while he has only scored from outside the box in Ligue 1 on three occasions.

    "I knew my statistics, yes. It had been a few matches that I wanted to score the 100th," he told Canal+.

    "This one wasn't the hardest. It's a liberation, especially at a big club like this and all the great players who have been here. When I signed here, I never thought I'd score 100 goals so quickly. It was part of the distant objectives.

    "Thank you to my team-mates and to the club for giving me confidence, whether in good times or bad. Thank you to everyone who works there.

    "I think I can score even more, offer more assists. It will come with time. I'm feeling better and better and going through matches will allow me to be even better physically."

    Mbappe is joint fourth, alongside Dominique Rocheteau, in the list of PSG's leading goalscorers, behind Pauleta (109), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (156) and Edinson Cavani (200).

    "Score 200 goals with PSG? Who knows," said Mbappe, who has often been linked with a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. "I never would have thought of 100 goals! You just have to think about the next game.

    "It's been three and a half years, and I've been through a lot here. It's great to have the support of the people."

  • Lampard warns table-topping Chelsea against getting carried away Lampard warns table-topping Chelsea against getting carried away

    Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has urged his players not to "get caught up in the chat" after they went top of the Premier League table.

    The Blues claimed a 3-1 win over Leeds United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud, Kurt Zouma and Christian Pulisic to move, temporarily at least, to the Premier League’s summit.

    Alongside second-placed Tottenham, who face Arsenal on Sunday, Chelsea are on the joint-longest unbeaten run in the division after their victory at Stamford Bridge made it nine games without defeat.

    They are the league's top scorers with 25 goals and have also kept five clean sheets – than any other top-flight team.

    Lampard, however, does not want his squad to get carried away despite the impressive numbers which appear to suggest they could be title challengers.

    "It's early December and there's a long way to go. But we are progressing," he told Sky Sports.

    "Whether it's this season we get to the heights we want, I don't know. But we are moving in the right direction.

    "When you bring in new players, have young players, you're trying to integrate them. I'm really pleased. It's work on the training ground and staff behind the scenes.

    "At our level, at Chelsea, people will always question us. Our job is to not get caught up in the chat.

    "We have to keep our feet on the ground. There's a long, long way to go. At the minute we're in a patch."

    Chelsea's variety of goalscoring options is reflected by the fact 13 of their players have now found the net this season – four more than any other club.

    Among them is Zouma, whose powerful header midway through the second half put Chelsea ahead on Saturday after Giroud cancelled out Patrick Bamford's early opener.

    France defender Zouma has four goals in 10 Premier League games this season, as many as he managed in his first 141 games in the competition, while Pulisic became the latest Chelsea player to find the net when he slid in to divert Timo Werner's cross home late on.

    Lampard acknowledged the importance he has placed on improving their attacking threat in different areas, and especially from dead-ball situations.

    He added: "We have worked on his finishing from set-pieces, but there's something about the group at the moment. They're really knuckling down and Kurt is full of confidence.

    "He thinks he will score. Set-pieces are huge, if you want to do anything in the Premier League you have to be good at set pieces."

  • Koeman: If we do not improve our attitude, there is nothing else to say Koeman: If we do not improve our attitude, there is nothing else to say

    Ronald Koeman has demanded Barcelona's attitude in away matches improve after the they went down 2-1 to Cadiz in LaLiga.

    Barca had lost just one of their previous eight fixtures in all competitions heading into Saturday's clash with Cadiz, who had already claimed the scalp of champions Real Madrid this term.

    The only defeat in that run came at the hands of Atletico Madrid in Barca's last away outing in LaLiga, however, and their poor form on the road under Koeman continued as Alvaro Gimenez and veteran forward Alvaro Negredo clinched another famous win for Cadiz, who had just 17.9 per cent possession.

    Cadiz moved up to fifth, while Barca sit 12 points behind leaders Atleti, who overcame Real Valladolid 2-0, with their tally of 14 points from 10 league matches their lowest since 1987-88 when adjusted to three points for a win.

    Barca had 21 attempts, though only eight hit the target, and Koeman's side had to rely on an own goal from Pedro Alcala to get on the scoresheet.

    The Blaugrana have failed to win four straight away LaLiga games (D1 L3) for the first time in a single season since 2007-08 under Frank Rijkaard.

    The result was one that Koeman planted firmly on his players, insisting that Barca's attitude on their travels has not been up to scratch.

    "We can't concede a second goal like that. It's a lack of concentration," Koeman told Movistar of Negredo's goal, which came when he charged down Marc-Andre ter Stegen after Clement Lenglet failed to control a throw-in.

    "It's hard to explain what happened because we had a good week. I think the first half wasn't good. We lost a lot of balls. There was a little improvement in the second half.

    "It's a giant step backwards to be able to compete for LaLiga. I'm very disappointed. There are many points dropped away. If we do not improve the attitude away from home, there is nothing else to say.

    "We have ups and downs in our games, in our attitude, although in principle it is good, but there are moments that it is not.

    "When we don't have the ball, we fail a lot. This is an attitude [problem] of the whole team."

    Barca have conceded first in their past four away league matches, a trend which concerns Koeman, who claimed his team are letting in the types of goals his former clubs have not.

    "In away games they put us behind and that's more complicated," he continued.

    "We don't have spaces to play and also, and we have to know this, we conceded goals that I couldn't think of happening in other teams that I have coached.

    "It is very difficult to explain, it may be because we lack concentration, we lacked aggressiveness, but it is not easy to explain how we conceded the second goal."

    Next up for Koeman is a home clash with Juventus in the Champions League, though both sides have already qualified for the last 16.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.