'Impossible' for Barca to play without Messi, claims Koeman

By Sports Desk May 16, 2021

Ronald Koeman had an eye-catching statement about the importance of Lionel Messi to Barcelona as he was quizzed on both his own future and that of his captain.

Barca can no longer win LaLiga following Sunday's results, with Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid both victorious elsewhere as the Blaugrana lost 2-1 at home to Celta Vigo.

Atleti's triumph meant Barca would not have been able to finish this season as champions regardless of their result against Celta, though Koeman's side could not deliver anyway.

Although they led through Lionel Messi in the first half, Santi Mina netted before the break and then late on to seal a fine victory for the Galicians.

It was a familiar sinking feeling against Celta, who have now beaten Barca five times since the start of the 2014-15 season – tied with Madrid for the most in that time.

However, this campaign has been particularly disappointing at Camp Nou, with a seventh loss the Blaugrana's most in a league season since nine in 2007-08. That was also the last time Barca had fewer than their current 76 points after 37 games (64).

Questions about Koeman's job security are to be expected then, but he responded on Sunday: "I'm not going to answer that."

Of greater concern to Barca fans, though, will be a decision on Messi's next move, with the legendary number 10 out of contract for the second consecutive close-season.

His header against Celta made this the 300th different LaLiga game he has scored in – Madrid great Raul is a distant second on 186 – while he tallied 30 league goals for the ninth time in 12 campaigns.

Since the turn of the year, no player in Europe's 'top five' leagues has been involved in more than Messi's 31 goals (23 goals, eight assists) and Barca are of course keen to keep their captain.

Asked if Messi was appearing at Camp Nou for the last time, Koeman said: "Hopefully not.

"He is still the best in the world and has also shown today that it is impossible to play without him.

"He has scored 30 goals in LaLiga and has given us many points in LaLiga. It's a question for Leo. For my part and the club, let's hope he stays with us.

"Because if Leo's not here, we have a doubt who's going to score the goals."

Left-back Jordi Alba was offered the same question and replied: "Let's hope not, although it's a decision [Messi] has to make."

Alba appeared to excuse Koeman, meanwhile, as he reflected on a tough run-in for Barca, who have won only one of their past five matches.

"We haven't won four games," he said. "It's a shame. We players are to blame. We have to give a good image in Eibar [in the final game], give it our all."

The coach added: "The problem wasn't today. We had the opportunity against Granada [another 2-1 defeat] and today we have lost in a similar way. That's how we feel.

"It has to be accepted because, in the end, the champion will just be the champion. And we won't have done enough."

Related items

  • NBA playoffs 2021: George hails 'tough' Clippers after vital victory over Suns NBA playoffs 2021: George hails 'tough' Clippers after vital victory over Suns

    Paul George hailed the toughness of the Los Angeles Clippers as they celebrated their first ever win in the Western Conference Finals after overcoming the Phoenix Suns 106-92 in Game 3.

    Making their first foray into the Conference Finals, the Clippers slumped to a 2-0 deficit against the second-seeded Suns heading into Thursday's clash in Los Angeles.

    With Kawhi Leonard still sidelined by a knee injury, George took centre stage as he recorded a 27-point and 15-rebound double-double – which included a stunning half-court buzzer-beater in the third period.

    "This team is tough," George told ESPN. "We do whatever it takes. We trust one another. We've got each other's backs, and we just play hard.

    "If you're going to beat us, it's just got to be one of those nights if you beat us. I think we've just got great resilience.

    "Ty Lue just does a great job making adjustments, counters. We come out and we play hard.

    "We put so much into this season, we've invested so much in each other, and we're going to live with the results.

    "We'll be ready for Game 4."

    Entering the contest at Staples Center following back-to-back games on the road, George had scored at least 20 points in all 15 games this postseason.

    The latest performance saw George eclipse LeBron James' run of 15 consecutive games (in 2016) with 20-plus points in the playoffs – Kevin Durant is the only other active player to achieve the feat in the postseason (20 straight in 2012 and 21 in a row in 2018).

    The Clippers – who are the first team all-time to be down 2-0 three times in a single postseason – outscored the visiting Suns 34-21 in the third quarter to move clear.

    Reggie Jackson added 23 points for the Clippers, while Ivica Zubac (15 points and 16 rebounds) finished with a double-double of his own.

    George and Zubac became the first set of team-mates to each tally 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds in a playoff showdown since James (28 points and 15 rebounds) and Kevin Love (15 points and 21 rebounds) in 2017.

    The starting team, which featured George, Jackson, Zubac, Patrick Beverley and Terance Mann, was Lue's fifth change of line-up across the previous eight games, with the coach reaping the rewards of earning his players' trust.

    "It means a lot just for those guys to trust me, to understand that whatever I'm doing is the best for the team, not for me," said Lue.

    "I just want to win. Making adjustments, sometimes it's tough, because adjustments mean some guys can't play, some guys play more, and you've got to be able to accept that."

  • Rumour Has It: Madrid hope to sign Mbappe after Euro 2020, Ronaldo's future undecided Rumour Has It: Madrid hope to sign Mbappe after Euro 2020, Ronaldo's future undecided

    Kylian Mbappe has long been linked with a blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

    Mbappe is out of contract at the end of next season and is yet to re-sign in Paris.

    Madrid are reportedly preparing their next steps in an attempt to recruit the France international.

     

    TOP STORY – MADRID STEPPING UP MBAPPE INTEREST

    Real Madrid are hoping to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe after Euro 2020, according to the front page of Friday's Marca.

    Marca detail Madrid's timetable to prise Mbappe from PSG in the report, with Los Blancos focusing on a post-European Championship transfer.

    Mbappe – also linked with Liverpool – is out of contract at the end of the 2021-22 season.

     

    ROUND-UP

    Cristiano Ronaldo's future remains undecided and it is blocking Juventus' plans in the transfer market, according to Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport. Ronaldo has been linked with PSG and Manchester United as Juve eye Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

    - The Sun claims Jack Grealish's agent expects the Aston Villa captain to join Premier League champions Manchester City. The England international has previously been linked with United, who are believed to be closing in on a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.

    Arsenal are nearing a deal to sign Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White, reports Goal. Brighton are demanding around £50million for the England international, who has also reportedly attracted interest from United and Liverpool.

    - Sampdoria midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard is wanted by Barcelona, Milan and Tottenham, says Marca and Sport.

    Milan and Inter are both looking to sign Barca goalkeeper Neto, according to Sport. Neto has served as a backup to Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

    - Tuttosport reports Inter have opened negotiations with Sassuolo for Giacomo Raspadori, while the Serie A champions are also interested in Lazio's Manuel Lazzari.

  • Cubs make MLB history with no-hitter against Dodgers, Vladdy reclaims homer lead as Jays stay hot Cubs make MLB history with no-hitter against Dodgers, Vladdy reclaims homer lead as Jays stay hot

    Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel combined for a no-hitter as the Chicago Cubs blanked World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0.

    The Cubs threw the seventh no-hitter of the 2021 season – tying a modern era record for most in a campaign – while making history of their own against the Dodgers on Thursday.

    It was the Cubs' first combined no-hitter in franchise history after Kimbrel completed the job away to the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

    Cubs starter Davies went six innings without allowing a hit, striking out four batters.

    The Cubs also became the first team in MLB history to throw a no-hitter (solo or combined) against a franchise with three former MVP winners in the starting line-up – Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Albert Pujols, according to Stats Perform.

     

    Vladdy hits the front in homer race, Astros win again

    Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reclaimed the lead for the most home runs this season after helping the Toronto Blue Jays crush the Baltimore Orioles 9-0. Guerrero homered for the 24th time in 2021 – a 438-foot moonshot guiding the Blue Jays to a fifth consecutive win after Lourdes Gurriel Jr's first career grand slam.

    The Houston Astros extended their winning streak to 11 games after easing past the Detroit Tigers 12-3. During their winning streak, Houston have scored 93 runs and allowed just 24. According to Stats Perform, they are the first MLB team to score 90-plus runs while allowing less than 25 over an 11-game span since the Pirates in 1911.

    Kyle Schwarber fuelled the Washington Nationals' 7-3 victory against the Miami Marlins. Schwarber homered twice for the Nationals. It is the fourth time in his last 11 games that Schwarber had at least two home runs and four RBI. According to Stats Perform, he is the first MLB player to achieve the feat four times in an 11-game span since RBI became an official stat in 1920.

     

    Kremer crushed in Buffalo

    Dean Kremer had a game to forget against the Blue Jays. The Orioles pitcher gave up six runs, two hits and a career-high five walks in the opening inning as Baltimore suffered their 20th straight road loss.

     

    Rays in wild walk-off win

    The Tampa Bay Rays reclaimed the lead in the American League (AL) East thanks to a dramatic finish in their 1-0 walk-off victory against the Boston Red Sox. With two outs in the ninth inning, the Rays prevailed after Manuel Margot scored from third base on a wild pitch by Red Sox closer Matt Barnes.

     

    Thursday's results

    New York Yankees 8-1 Kansas City Royals
    Oakland Athletics 5-1 Texas Rangers
    Toronto Blue Jays 9-0 Baltimore Orioles
    Cincinnati Reds 5-3 Atlanta Braves
    Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 Boston Red Sox
    Houston Astros 12-3 Detroit Tigers
    Washington Nationals 7-3 Miami Marlins
    Cleveland Indians 4-1 Minnesota Twins
    Pittsburgh Pirates 8-2 St Louis Cardinals
    Chicago Cubs 4-0 Los Angeles Dodgers

     

    Yankees at Red Sox

    The blockbuster rivalry resumes as the New York Yankees (40-34) visit the Red Sox (44-31) for the series opener on Friday. Martin Perez starts for the Red Sox as the Yankees counter with Domingo German.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.