Ronald Koeman claimed there was nothing sinister behind his decision not to start Antoine Griezmann in Barcelona's 4-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The France international was named among the substitutes and replaced Philippe Coutinho in the 66th minute of the contest, going on to score a goal in injury time.

Griezmann's relationship with Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who was rested for the trip to Ukraine, has been under scrutiny recently, after comments by his former agent and his uncle.

However, Koeman said Griezmann was "happy" at Camp Nou and he was just being cautious with the 29-year-old's workload.

"Griezmann was on the bench solely for a little physical problem we wanted to be careful with," Koeman told a news conference after the game.

"It's vital to give rest to some and playing time to those who work hard in training every day but haven't played a lot.

"I have seen him [Griezmann] work from the beginning. He is a happy player, who always gives his best for the team and the club.

"Too bad he has no luck scoring more goals. The only way to change this is to work harder. He is trying."

Koeman claimed Barca's victory over Dynamo, which secured their place in the Champions League last 16, was the type of performance he wants to see repeated in LaLiga.

The Blaugrana are languishing in 13th place in the table after three wins, three defeats and two draws from their opening eight matches.

It is their worst start to a season at this stage in LaLiga since the 1991-92 campaign.

"This is the image of Barcelona we want to see," added the Barca head coach. "I liked the collective performance. They have worked hard, they pushed.

"They dominated the game sufficiently to be proud of their performance. We perhaps lacked a bit of effectiveness in the first half but overall I'm very happy.

"We have seen a very hungry team. We scored four goals, important players were able to rest and the youngsters have deserved these minutes. They have delivered. I highlight the whole team."

Jordi Alba says Sergino Dest can become a Barcelona star after the young defender netted his first goal for the club.

The United States international opened the scoring for the Blaugrana against Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday as Ronald Koeman's side cruised into the last 16 of the Champions League with a comfortable 4-0 Group G win.

Dest defended solidly and also caught the eye going forward with four touches inside the Dynamo penalty area and six crosses – more than any other player.

The 20-year-old right-back's goal also showed fine composure as he rounded off a slick move with a crisp angled finish.

"Dest comes with a lot of desire. With Sergi Roberto's unfortunate injury he will surely have more opportunities," Barcelona left-back Alba told reporters after the emphatic victory.

"I think he has a high level. He has a great future and fits perfectly with the characteristics that a full-back at Barca should have."

Dest, who joined Barca from Ajax in October, added: "We played really well. It's a dream to have contributed with my first goal for the club. I tried hard to hold my position because I'm happy in this team and I want to keep my place."

Martin Braithwaite scored twice and Antoine Griezmann was also on target in Barca's fourth win in as many Champions League games – the first time they have achieved the feat since the 2002-03 campaign.

It is in stark contrast to their LaLiga form, which has seen them make their worst start to a season in 29 years to put increased scrutiny on head coach Koeman, who only took the reins at the Camp Nou in August.

Alba says the players are still adjusting to Koeman's approach and a change in fortunes in LaLiga is just around the corner.

"We have to improve a lot, it's a team with a lot of new people," added the 31-year-old.

"I've been here for nine years and it's always the same. When you don't win, you talk a lot. It's normal.

"We have lost points that if the ball went differently we would have taken them.

"I think the work is good, for the team and the coaching staff. There is a high level and any team can beat you if you are not playing well. Until the Christmas break we have games to win and we will try "

Martin Braithwaite scored twice as Barcelona eased to a 4-0 victory over Dynamo Kiev in Champions League Group G on Tuesday.

After an underwhelming first-half display, Ronald Koeman's side took the lead early in the second period with a fine finish from Sergino Dest.

Braithwaite netted his first goal in Europe for Barca with a close-range finish from a corner before he added his second of the game from the penalty spot.

Substitute Antoine Griezmann put the gloss on the win in injury time with a clinical finish from the inside the box.

Barca completed the victory without Lionel Messi, who did not make the trip to Kiev after Koeman gave him a break following a hectic schedule.

Koeman rotated his squad as he gave first starts of the season to Carles Alena, Junior Firpo and Braithwaite, while Oscar Mingueza made his first-team debut.

The side named by the Dutchman had an average age of 24 years and 206 days, which was the club’s youngest in the Champions League since 2011 and their seventh youngest ever in the competition.

A youthful Blaugrana showed early promise although Dynamo had the first meaningful attempt with Marc-Andre ter Stegen saving Carlos de Pena's scuffed shot.

Philippe Coutinho curled a free-kick wide from distance but Francisco Trincao's dipping effort, easily gathered by Georgi Bushchan, was Barca's only shot on target during a drab first half.

Koeman's side increased the tempo after half-time and soon took the lead with a well-crafted goal which saw Braithwaite slide the ball through for Dest, who crisply angled a low finish into the net.

Shortly before the hour-mark Barca added a second when Braithwaite stabbed home at the back post after Mingueza's deft flick from Alena's corner.

Braithwaite won a penalty after he was fouled by Denys Popov and the Denmark striker confidently stepped up to send the spot-kick high into the corner of the net.

Dynamo rarely threatened in the remainder of the contest while Riqui Puig missed a sitter for Barcelona late on when he fired over the crossbar.

Griezmann, a 66th-minute replacement for Coutinho, added a fourth in injury time when he swept the ball home.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman is open to signing a new centre-back in January to compensate for the loss of Gerard Pique to a potential long-term injury.

Pique hobbled off during the second half of Barca's 1-0 LaLiga loss to Atletico Madrid on Saturday with knee ligament damage.

There are fears that the injury may keep the Spain international sidelined for the next six months, effectively ruling him out for the rest of the campaign.

Knee surgeon specialist Dr. Ramon Cugat, who recently operated on Ansu Fati, has revealed he will meet with Pique on Wednesday and a decision will be made on whether he should go under the knife.

"It is a lot to discuss how long he will be out because every knee is different," Cugat told Mundo Deportivo. "We must be prudent, discuss it with the player and then decide.

"We still don't know which treatment we will use, whether surgical or not. The objective is to make the knee as stable as possible."

Providing a further update on the damage sustained by Pique at the weekend, Cugat added: "In additional to the cruciate injury, he has injured the internal lateral ligament.

"That can be cured with biological therapies. In this case there is no fluid on the knee, which plays in favour of possible conservative treatment, rather than surgery."

Pique has featured 10 times in all competitions for Barcelona this term and has been a key man at the back since returning to the club in 2008.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Barca have failed to win any of the three LaLiga games Pique has not started, conceding an average of two goals a game compared to 0.9 when he is in the side.

And Koeman says it is possible the Catalan giants will strengthen at the back when the transfer window reopens in January.

"We know that it is an important loss for us, and possibly for some time," Koeman said. "We are looking and have previously looked. 

"One of those positions we are looking at is that central issue. But today we cannot do anything. If there is any possibility we can then I will have to talk to the club.

"He has been here for many years, he has a huge personality and it is a significant loss. It is sad for the team and for the club. It is difficult, but we have to accept and see how we solve this issue."

Koeman is also without Samuel Umtiti, Ronald Araujo and Sergi Roberto, while makeshift centre-backs Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong are not in contention to face Dynamo Kiev.

Academy product Oscar Mingueza has been promoted from the B team and is part of Barca's 19-man squad for Tuesday's Champions League clash in Ukraine.

"It is possible that he will play," Koeman, who has also taken the decision to rest Lionel Messi, said at a pre-match news conference on Monday.

"We cannot risk Araujo when you take into account how few centre-backs we have."

Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona's squad for the Champions League meeting with Dynamo Kiev as the forward is in need of a rest, says head coach Ronald Koeman.

Messi is not part of Barca's 19-man travelling party for Tuesday's Group G clash in Kiev while midfielder Frenkie de Jong is another notable absentee, despite being tipped to fill in for injured Gerard Pique at centre-back.

The Argentina international has endured a frustrating campaign for the Catalan giants, scoring only one goal from open play in eight LaLiga outings and yet to lay on an assist.

All three of his goals in the Champions League this term have come via the penalty spot, the 33-year-old failing to find the target from his nine attempts in open play.

After two goalless outings for Argentina last week, Koeman has now taken the decision to give Messi a breather in midweek.

"Leo is not travelling with us, neither is Frenkie," Koeman said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "We felt that both needed a break.

"With nine points so far in the Champions League we are in a comfortable position and have the chance to give them a rest."

Messi was benched for Barca's 5-2 win over Real Betis prior to the international break, which Koeman put down to a minor injury concern, before he came on for the second half to inspire his side to victory.

He was restored to the XI for Saturday's 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid but tested Jan Oblak only once from his three shots and had just two touches of the ball in the opposition box.

But Koeman is confident Messi, who failed in an attempt to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer in August, will soon rediscover his best form.

"He is still a very important player for us and can continue to give a lot," he said.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was left feeling concerned by the manner of Atletico Madrid's winning goal in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Wanda Metropolitano.

Barca travelled to Madrid having won only one of their previous five LaLiga matches, a run of results that already had them playing catch-up in the table.

Defeat – their third in a little over a month – means they could end the weekend in the bottom half of the table, with the Blaugrana seemingly struggling to recover from a tumultuous pre-season off the pitch.

The solitary goal conceded against Atletico came at the end of the first half when Gerard Pique – who was later substituted with a nasty-looking knee injury – failed to cut out Angel Correa's pass, and Yannick Carrasco skipped past the stranded Marc-Andre ter Stegen before slotting into an empty net from 35 yards.

The whole situation left Koeman frustrated.

"It is worrying," he told Movistar. "For a big team, conceding a goal like this ... it can't be, because it's the 47th minute, we had the ball and then they score, 1-0.

"We controlled and we knew that it was difficult to create many chances. We had a pair and with the score 0-0, the game would have been totally different [if they had taken either chance].

"Like any coach, I am responsible for the team's results."

Although the campaign is still in its early stages, Atletico's win saw them go nine points clear of Barca.

Koeman recognised it as a significant gap to bridge and is demanding a streak of wins from his men in response.

"It's a pretty big difference, but there is a lot of the league left and a lot of games," he continued.

"We know that every match is complicated, but after this defeat we have to chain an important winning streak.

"I have seen a team that has fought until the last second to been able to level the game, so in this sense I am not worried."

Barca confirmed after the match that Pique had sustained a knee sprain" though further tests are required to determine the extent of the injury.

Lionel Messi has every right to be "p****d off" at being questioned over his relationship with Antoine Griezmann, according to Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman.

Griezmann's former representative Eric Olhats last week suggested the Barca captain has played a significant role in the France star's struggles at Camp Nou.

Messi was asked about the remarks after landing at El Prat Airport on Wednesday, having represented Argentina in a couple of World Cup qualifiers over the international break.

"I'm a little tired of always being the problem for everything at the club," he said.

Messi's comments come at a time when he continues to be linked with a move away from Barca, but Koeman insisted it is not fair on his player to be constantly questioned.

"I can understand that Leo is p****d off. You have to respect Leo more," he said at a news conference ahead of Saturday's LaLiga clash with Atletico Madrid.

"After such a long trip and asking about Antoine is disrespectful. It may be your intention to create a controversy. 

"I have never seen any confrontation between the two on the field, training ground or in the locker room. 

"I am not in favour of giving importance to Olhats because he stopped being Griezmann's agent years ago. What he said is b******t."

Koeman added: "I have to defend Leo because after 15 hours of travel, they do a one-hour check, and then you find a lot of press asking you a lot of questions."

Messi failed in an effort to walk away from Barca in August as the validity of his release clause was questioned due to last season being prolonged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Koeman reiterated he is hopeful the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will stay on beyond this season but conceded the decision is out of his hands.

"He still has a year on his contract. In my opinion he has to stay here," he said. "But I am not the person who has to convince him. Nobody knows what may happen in the future.

"It is incredible what he has done for this club. He is the person who will make a decision about his future."

The comments made by Olhats placed Griezmann's role at Barcelona firmly back in the spotlight, the forward having failed to make the desired impact since arriving in July 2019.

Griezmann has two goals and one assist in nine appearances this term and missed a penalty in Barca's last outing before the international break.

However, ahead of this weekend's trip to Griezmann's former club Atletico, Koeman reiterated he has no concerns over the Frenchman's form.

"No, because I see him concentrating, working and trying to help win the games," he said.

Philippe Coutinho is back in Barca's squad for the showdown at the Wanda Metropolitano, coinciding with the loss of Ansu Fati to a knee injury for the next four months.

"Philippe is okay," Koeman added. "He has been training for almost a week now and we have to talk to the physios about the best time for him to enter the match - from the start or from the bench.

"He is not a winger who likes to go deep; he plays more as an offensive midfielder. He is a great player and it is always good to have him because he is versatile."

Ronald Koeman is backing Antoine Griezmann to find consistent form for Barcelona but will not rule out a bid to sign Memphis Depay.

France star Griezmann, a €120million signing from Atletico Madrid last year, has struggled to impress on a regular basis alongside Lionel Messi at Camp Nou.

The forward, who missed a penalty against Real Betis last week before scoring in Barca's 5-2 victory, has just two goals, one assist and four chances created to his name in seven LaLiga appearances this season.

Koeman thinks the 29-year-old is bound to hit top gear, though, as long as he maintains his strong work ethic.

"He needs a bit more confidence and scoring goals always gives you that confidence," Koeman told Mundo Deportivo.

"You can't say he doesn't work, he works a lot, but maybe he feels a little more free when he's with the national team, having been with them a long time and always playing in the same position.

"There's are many more things besides, but a player who is working and trying so much to change things, I think in the end he'll get to where he wants to be.

"His best position is maybe more central, as a number nine, a number 10 behind a nine, with a lot of freedom on the right wing cutting in, with [Ousmane] Dembele playing more outside.

"They're positions in which he can give a lot to this team."

With Griezmann out of sorts and Ansu Fati sidelined for four months after meniscus surgery, Barca have been tipped to make a new move for Lyon forward Depay.

The Catalans agreed terms with Depay during the previous transfer window but a deal could not be struck between the clubs, and the Ligue 1 side's president Jean-Michel Aulas insists they will not sell the player in January even though his contract expires at the end of the season.

However, Koeman will not discount the prospect of signing the Netherlands international, with whom he worked while in charge of the national side and who has been directly involved in eight goals in Ligue 1 this season, a tally bettered only by Kylian Mbappe.

"Now is not the moment to talk about players who aren't here. For me, it's not good," he said.

"It's true his name has come out and he's played every game with our national team as a number nine.

"Everyone can have their opinion, but not here, and we'll see what happens in the future."

Koeman also suggested a deal could yet be struck to sign Eric Garcia from Manchester City, adding: "Well, I don't know. It depends on Manchester City."

Speaking to Sport, Koeman admitted captain Lionel Messi had been "unhappy" when he first arrived at the club, the forward having tried unsuccessfully to leave in the wake of the 8-2 Champions League destruction by Bayern Munich, a club-record defeat in the competition. 

Messi's form has been questioned in 2020-21, the Argentina star having failed to score from open play or register an assist in his first six LaLiga matches.

He produced a star turn off the bench against Real Betis, however, scoring twice, assisting another and playing a key role in Griezmann's goal as Barca claimed a 5-2 victory.

"I spoke to him on the first day, totally frankly, and I've never doubted him," Koeman said of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"I see him training every day and enjoying playing. I said on the first day that he's the best player in the world and of course I prefer to have the best in the world in my team.

"As I said after the game against Betis, if he's well, he'll always start."

Lionel Messi remains the best footballer in the world and makes Barcelona a better team when he is in the side, says head coach Ronald Koeman.

The Argentina international was named among the substitutes for a LaLiga game for the first time since September 2019 in Saturday's 5-2 win over Real Betis at Camp Nou.

He had failed to score or assist from open play in six league matches this term before last weekend's contest, but Koeman denied he was dropped and put his absence from the side down to a knock.

Messi ended his open-play drought by powering home as a half-time substitute against Betis, having earlier scored his fifth penalty of the campaign in all competitions.

Koeman has reaffirmed he has full faith in the forward, who failed in an attempt to move away from the club at the end of last season.

"Messi has shown me to be a person who wants to win things and continue to be the best, even though he has had his problems with the club," Koeman told Sport.

"Barcelona have been, are and will be a better team with Messi than without. When I arrived, they told me that Messi was unhappy.

"We spoke at his house and he explained his reasons to me. I was honest. I told him that the only thing is the system, his position on the field, his importance in the team.

"But the problems that he had had with the club I couldn't change. From the first day I have said the same thing. He is the best and is committed to the club.

"He has had his issues, his problems this summer, but since he returned to training he has been very good.

"He has had bad luck in some games and he has not been able to offer the usual performance, but I am sure that at the end of the season he will have scored the usual goals."

Koeman replaced Quique Setien ahead of the 2020-21 campaign and oversaw Barca's joint-worst start to a LaLiga campaign after six games in the three-points-per-win era.

But the ex-Netherlands boss has put part of his side's early struggles down to poor refereeing and is confident positive changes are being made on the field.

"We have been able to change the image of the team. We have made changes that have given another air to the group," he said.

"People are very involved, very committed. We have increased the intensity of the training sessions and we have played good games.

"It is true that we have lost many points in the league, in games that we could have achieved a better result. Refereeing decisions have influenced the final result in some.

"We know we have to improve things and we are working towards that. Now we have a break, but we are already preparing a very demanding schedule for when we return."

Ronald Koeman says his decision to name Lionel Messi on the bench for Barcelona's LaLiga clash with Real Betis was down to the forward carrying a knock.

Messi was absent from Barca's starting line-up for the first time during Koeman's 10-game reign yet still managed to have a major say in his side's 5-2 victory at Camp Nou.

The Argentina international had failed to assist a goal or score from open play in six league matches before Saturday's victory.

It was the first time he had been benched for a league game since September 2019, but Koeman insists he was left out purely for fitness reasons.

"We talked yesterday," Koeman said to Movistar Plus. "Leo came out of the game against Dynamo Kiev with some discomfort and was not in a position to play from the start today.

"We had to put him on the bench. If he has no problems then he plays from the beginning. Today he could not."

Messi was brought on at half-time and scored a brace as a substitute for the fifth time in his career and the first time since May 2013 – also against Betis.

"I have no doubts about him," Koeman said. "I know him well and see him train every day."

Barca went into half-time level after their academy product Antonio Sanabria cancelled out Ousmane Dembele's strike, roughly 15 minutes after Antoine Griezmann had a penalty saved.

Messi inspired his side to a first win in five league games, however, by playing a pivotal part in Griezmann's strike and converting a penalty awarded for Aissa Mandi's handball.

Mandi was sent off but Loren Moreno scored to make things interesting, only for Messi's first open-play goal this term and Pedri's maiden LaLiga strike to settle things.

"It was an important victory for us because we needed the points," Koeman said. "I'm happy because we created a lot of chances, had opportunities to score and did score.

"Luckily, we scored in the second half because the first half wasn't fair. Conceding a goal against a team with 10 men also isn't good, but it was a deserved victory."

Griezmann missed three big chances in the first half, as well as a penalty, which ex-Barca stopper Claudio Bravo did well to keep out.

However, he scored and assisted a goal in the same Barca game for the first time this calendar year and Koeman was pleased with the France international's overall display.

"I hope to see him continue working like this," he said. "To miss opportunities, you have to be there. His character must be highlighted because he is always there.

"He knows perfectly well that he missed a penalty, but the important thing is that he always shows himself and that type of character is important."

Asked for an update on fellow attacker Ansu Fati, who was withdrawn for Messi at the interval, Koeman said: "He had discomfort and we did not want to risk him."

Ronald Koeman has hit back at suggestions Lionel Messi is not working hard enough for Barcelona following criticism of his efforts against Dynamo Kiev.

Messi scored a penalty to help the Catalan giants to a 2-1 victory at Camp Nou on Wednesday, a result that left them three points clear at the top of Champions League Group G.

A clip of the Argentina star failing to press the Dynamo defenders in second-half injury time went viral after the match, though, as viewers called the forward's work rate into question.

Messi had more shots (six) and created more chances (four) than any other player in the match, but he also lost possession more frequently than anyone else (20 times) without once winning it back.

His form has been scrutinised ever since he failed to engineer a transfer away from Barca in August and September. Despite attempting more shots (28) than any other player in LaLiga, he has yet to score from open play in the competition in 2020-21 or provide an assist in his six appearances.

Koeman, however, says out-of-context footage is no way to judge a player's effectiveness and insists Messi remains an essential player.

"I didn't seem him [walking] and I'm not interested in this because I don't see him walking," the Barca head coach said on Friday. "If you want to start a controversy around this point, it's your problem.

"Messi is mentally good, enjoying this sport. He's a winner and sometimes you go through moments when the ball doesn't go in, but he looks really focused on that subject.

"I think Messi still has so many qualities. He's very important in our game.

"He scored the penalty and we're used to him making the difference here, and he's still a very decisive player.

"You said [the footage was from] the 93rd minute... there are pictures of anyone, of me when I'm sitting down, or annoyed. It seems we should be more aware of our image than our work. I don't agree with that. 

"I think these players, like those of my era, have the same effort as us. They work in training, they want to win and it annoys them when they don't win. If it were not like this, it'd be because my work isn't working."

Barca face Real Betis at Camp Nou on Saturday, looking to record just their third league win of the season.

Veteran winger Joaquin caused a stir this week when he claimed he would not even hire Koeman "as kit man" after a difficult spell working under him at Valencia.

Asked about those comments, Koeman said: "I understand it's a really interesting topic for you.

"If he speaks, it's his problem. I'm focused on the game and not individual things that happened many years ago."

Ronald Koeman thanked "phenomenal" Marc-Andre ter Stegen for his part in Barcelona's narrow 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev and acknowledged his side have plenty to work on.

The Catalan giants made it three wins from three in Champions League Group G through Lionel Messi's fifth-minute penalty and a Gerard Pique header in the second half.

However, Barca needed Ter Stegen to make six saves against a Dynamo side depleted by a coronavirus outbreak in their camp, including a top-class reaction stop to deny Vitaliy Buyalskiy.

Viktor Tsygankov eventually found a way past Ter Stegen, who was making his first appearance of 2020-21 after recovering from a knee injury, but Barca saw out the victory.

"He has proved to be a great goalkeeper for us," Koeman told Movistar after the game. "He has been training well and we can see that today.

"We started the match well and quickly made it 1-0, but we were unable to find the second goal and then lost control.

"Thanks to Marc, who has been phenomenal, we managed to keep the opposition out."

Barca have made their worst start to a LaLiga season in the three points for a win era but are well on their way to a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

They are three points better off than second-placed Juventus at the midway stage and have an eight-point advantage on Ferencvaros and Dynamo, with a trip to the latter up next in three weeks' time.

Koeman struggled to find too many positives from his side's latest European victory, though, adding: "We have to play better and improve the game without the ball. 

"Today we did not do that well. In general, we had been good defensively. But today they put us in danger and we must talk about that and improve our game without the ball."

Dynamo had an inspired keeper of their own between the sticks as Ruslan Neshcheret made 12 saves in total on what was just his second senior appearance.

Neshcheret was brought into the side due to the visitors' two other shot-stoppers being ruled out with coronavirus and the youngster produced the performance of a lifetime.

"It was like being in a fairytale," he said. "Playing at this great stadium in such a game is a dream for any footballer. 

"Messi's penalty was very good. He's one of the best in this aspect. We were really happy to have a chance to play against such top opponents."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen could be set to make his first appearance of the season when Barcelona take on Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday.

Goalkeeper Ter Stegen underwent knee surgery in August, with Barca saying following the procedure that the 28-year-old was expected to be out until November.

Neto has filled in during the Germany international's absence, starting all six LaLiga games and both Champions League fixtures played so far in the 2020-21 campaign.

Barca started with back-to-back clean sheets in victories over Villarreal and Celta Vigo but have failed to win in the league since, including going down 3-1 at Camp Nou to rivals Real Madrid.

An awful Neto error gifted Deportivo Alaves their opener on Saturday as the Blaugrana were held by 10 men.

They did shut out Juventus in their previous European match, albeit the Serie A side were without Cristiano Ronaldo and had three potential goals for Alvaro Morata ruled out for offside by VAR.

Ter Stegen could now make his return against Kiev, having been included by coach Ronald Koeman in a 21-man squad list after receiving medical clearance.

The Barca number one's save percentage in the Champions League since the start of last season (67.5 per cent) is lower than Neto's (80), although eight of the 13 goals he has conceded in that span came in one game.

The 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich, which spelled the end of an era at Camp Nou, was Ter Stegen's most recent appearance.

Over the same period of time, Ter Stegen has saved 69.0 per cent of shots on target in LaLiga, marginally up on Neto's 66.7 per cent, with each keeper conceding an average of exactly one goal per game.

Lionel Messi always shows his "ambition" and "winning character" and is not difficult to manage, according to Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman.

This week, former Barca coach Quique Setien described Argentina superstar Messi as the greatest player of all time but said: "There's another facet beyond just the player and it's more difficult to manage. Much more difficult. 

"It's something inherent in many athletes that can be seen in the Michael Jordan documentary ['The Last Dance']. You see things you don't expect."

Setien was dismissed in the wake of the humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in last season's Champions League quarter-finals, with Koeman replacing the deposed coach.

The Dutchman retained the services of Messi in his squad despite a very public and ugly transfer saga involving the Barca captain.

But Koeman insists he does not find it tricky managing a player considered by many as the best of all time.

"I respect all opinions. For me Leo is the best player in the world, I am seeing his ambition and winning character," he told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev at Camp Nou. 

"I have no difficulties to lead [him]. He is the captain and I talk to him every week. I see things differently from Setien and I do not agree [with his opinion]."

Despite being in the infancy of his tenure, there is already some pressure on Koeman – not least because of the resignation of president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Barca have also only taken two points from their past four LaLiga matches, a run that included a 3-1 reverse to Real Madrid in the Clasico and a 1-1 draw at Deportivo Alaves, who finished Saturday's encounter with 10 men.

In LaLiga this season, Barca have scored 10 goals, created 58 chances and 13 big chances in six games. Madrid, as a comparison, have 13, 81 and 25 across the metrics.

Koeman insists his side are trying to play in a positive way and does not pay too much attention to external noise about his long-term future.

"My future at Barcelona is not the most important thing. You have to live day by day and try to win the games," he added. 

"We ask for peace of mind and time because we are changing a lot of things. In LaLIga we have been good, but we have not gotten good results. In the rest I have no influence. I will do my best to stay a long time.

"We are the team that creates the most chances per game. The image we are showing is positive and we will continue on this path although we know that in LaLiga you have to win more games."

Barca's clash with Dynamo has been hit by several positive results for coronavirus returned by the visitors.

But Koeman warned his side against complacency if the match goes ahead, especially considering Shakhtar Donetsk had similar issues prior to beating Madrid in matchday one.

"We know that Dynamo has problems due to COVID. They have done a test this morning, we have to wait for the results this afternoon," he added. 

"I don't know the UEFA rules. We have to prepare for the game and hopefully we can play it.

"The COVID issue is not easy. At Dynamo there are many players and that influences their quality, but there were also casualties at Shakhtar and they won against Madrid. 

"You have to respect the opposition."

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman admitted he is worried about the stuttering club following their equal worst LaLiga start.

Barca equalled their worst tally of LaLiga points after six games since the Spanish competition reverted to three points for a win following Saturday's 1-1 draw at 10-man Deportivo Alaves.

Antoine Griezmann cancelled out Luis Rioja's opener with 27 minutes remaining to salvage a point for Barca, who have just eight points to already be as many points adrift of defending champions and bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Barca – who languish in 12th place amid a four-match winless streak in LaLiga – have the same total of points as they managed at the start of the 2002-03 campaign under Louis van Gaal.

"I'm worried by our performance in attack," Koeman – in his first season at the helm after replacing Quique Setien – said. "It's not an attitude problem, nor concentration, but it's a question of being more assured in front of goal.

"It happened to us against Juventus and today as well. Furthermore, we gifted Alaves their goal. But if we create that many chances, we can't miss so many. If you create chances and you only score one, it's not good.

"Of course I'm worried that we've only picked up two points from the last 12 [available]. I think the play has been, in general, very satisfactory. I'd be more worried if we weren't creating chances.

"We have to perform better in front of goal. The final pass, the final shot. We can't miss so many [chances]. We're missing too many."

Lionel Messi's struggles also continued – the superstar Barca captain has now gone 877 minutes without scoring in open play.

Messi's last open-play effort came against Napoli in the Champions League back in August, although he has scored three penalties and one free-kick since then.

Koeman made three changes at half-time, introducing Miralem Pjanic, Pedri and Trincao for Sergio Busquets, Clement Lenglet and Ousmane Dembele following Rioja's 31st-minute opener.

"I wasn't happy with the first half," said Koeman. "I made three changes because I wasn't happy and there were some players on a yellow card.

"If you criticised me the other day for making changes too late, today I made changes at half-time. I wasn't happy with our first half and there were people on the bench with the capability of scoring. I wanted to change things to win the game."

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