We have to be realistic – Koeman claims Barcelona are not ready to win major trophies

By Sports Desk January 30, 2021

Barcelona are not ready to win the biggest trophies and fans must be "realistic" about their title chances, head coach Ronald Koeman said.

The Catalans face Athletic Bilbao on Sunday for the first time since suffering defeat to Marcelino's side in the final of the Supercopa de Espana.

Barca go into the match 10 points behind LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand. Their tally of 37 points from their first 19 matches is their lowest return at this stage of a season since 2003-04.

According to a Stats Perform AI model run last week, Barca had just a 12.4 per cent likelihood of winning LaLiga, with Atletico overwhelming favourites at 75.1 per cent.

Having won just twice in their past seven meetings with Athletic in all competitions, the pressure is on Barca and Koeman to deliver to keep their slim hopes of a title challenge intact.

However, the former Netherlands boss feels this has been a year of transition for the club that means they should not aim too high.

"It's tough, because the points gap is very big," he said on Saturday. "In the Champions League, there's no clear favourite. We have a knockout against Paris Saint-Germain that we'll try to get through.

"I have said several times that this is a season where we are changing things, we are opting for young players.

"Barcelona are not about to win a lot of things right now. We have to be realistic about where we've come from, the changes we've made... not everything depends on one player. We always have to be ready to fight, but we have to be realistic."

With Barca having reported debts of close to €1.2billion and with presidential elections not taking place until March, January signings have been practically impossible.

The club remain hopeful, however, of bringing in Eric Garcia from Manchester City this month. The defender has already agreed to a deal with the club but they are exploring options to sign him in the coming days rather than wait for a free transfer at the end of the season, when his City contract expires.

"It's always important to have someone at the club working to improve our squad, if not in January for next year," Koeman said.

"It doesn't bother me because it's a job the club has to do. The players don't have to be bothered by these issues, because we talk to them every day, they take part in the games.... These things happen at any club in the world and I don't see any problem.

"We'll certainly have him [Garcia] for next season. If it's not possible for him to come now, we have to accept it and we'll keep going with what there is.

"But I don't know. I don't want to spend energy on this and I'm just focused on preparing the team for the games.

"I spoke to [City manager] Pep [Guardiola] a little while ago to wish him a happy 50th birthday. We talked, but we don't do so on Eric Garcia. That's not my job. I'm dedicated to coaching.

"I think it's normal that it's talked about so much because it's a transfer and because of the circumstances around the club. I've said what I thought, but what ends up happening is something I can't control, so I'm focused on what's important, which is trying to win games."

Related items

  • Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Sociedad: Suarez double drags champions back from behind Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Sociedad: Suarez double drags champions back from behind

    Luis Suarez scored twice in the second half to help champions Atletico Madrid come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad at the Wanda Metropolitano.

    Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak will feel he could have done better for both Sociedad goals as Alexander Sorloth finished off a slick, one-touch move to give La Real an early lead before Alexander Isak extended their advantage with a free-kick into the bottom-right corner shortly after the break.

    Suarez gave Diego Simeone's men a lifeline with a header, however, and hauled his team back on level terms by winning and then converting a penalty.

    The draw means Sociedad return to the top of LaLiga having been briefly usurped by Real Madrid, who trail by a point but have the benefit of a game in hand. Atletico are up to fourth.

    Just seven minutes in, Sorloth added the finishing touch to a lightning-quick Sociedad attack after the ball was won in midfield, prodding past a hesitant Oblak, who came off his line too late.

    The goalscorer then linked up neatly with David Silva, playing a one-two with the veteran midfielder as the latter tested Oblak with a sharp effort from a tight angle on the right, with Suarez heading wastefully at Alex Remiro shortly after for Atletico.

    Isak, having set up the opener, doubled La Real's lead two minutes into the second half as Oblak could not keep out his low free-kick despite getting a hand to the shot.

    Suarez pulled one back just after the hour mark, though, finding space in the box to deftly nod Joao Felix's left-wing cross past Remiro before drawing a penalty from Mikel Merino - awarded after a VAR check - which he converted confidently, sending Remiro the wrong way to salvage a point for his side.

  • Inter 1-1 Juventus: Late Dybala penalty cancels out Dzeko strike Inter 1-1 Juventus: Late Dybala penalty cancels out Dzeko strike

    Paulo Dybala's late penalty cancelled out Edin Dzeko's first-half strike as Inter were held by Juventus 1-1 in Sunday's Derby d'Italia clash in Serie A.

    The Bianconeri started this term poorly – going winless in their first three top-flight games – but had responded well with a four-match winning run before travelling to Inter, who were facing consecutive league defeats for the first time since March 2020.

    However, it was Dzeko who opened the scoring after 17 minutes at San Siro with his eighth goal of the season as the division's early top scorers added their 24th goal of the term.

    Juve's nine-match unbeaten run across all competitions seemed destined to end but Dybala's late penalty, aided by a VAR decision that infuriated Simone Inzaghi so much he was sent off for his reaction, ensured Massimiliano Allegri's men left Milan with a point.

    Samir Handanovic produced a fine double save to deny Alvaro Morata and Alex Sandro in the opening stages after Milan Skriniar had headed narrowly wide for Inter.

    Hakan Calhanoglu then curled against the right-hand post before Dzeko converted on the rebound from close range – his fifth Serie A goal in just four home appearances so far this campaign.

    Juan Cuadrado fired wide at the other end and Leonardo Bonucci sliced off target on the stroke of half-time as Juve looked to respond.

    Dzeko flicked wide after the interval as he sought to extend Inter's lead before Ivan Perisic skewed over Wojciech Szczesny's goal just after the hour mark.

    Substitute Dybala's free-kick was then beaten away by Handanovic before the Argentina international converted from the spot to score a late equaliser following Denzel Dumfries' foul on Alex Sandro, which was picked up by VAR.

  • Koeman's car mobbed after El Clasico defeat as pressure grows on Barcelona boss Koeman's car mobbed after El Clasico defeat as pressure grows on Barcelona boss

    Barcelona have condemned the actions of fans who mobbed under-fire head coach Ronald Koeman's car as he left Camp Nou following a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season.

    Goals from David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez put Madrid into the lead and Sergio Aguero's stoppage-time strike proved merely a consolation as Barca slipped to a fourth consecutive Clasico defeat – the last three coming under Koeman.

    The Dutchman is only the second Barca manager in history to lose his first three LaLiga games against Real Madrid, with Patrick O'Connell having suffered the same fate between 1935 and 1940.

    With Barca ninth in LaLiga and third in their Champions League group, pressure is growing on Koeman as fans grow restless with the team's poor performances.

    That unrest spilled over in the aftermath of Sunday's loss against Los Blancos, with a crowd of fans mobbing Koeman's car as he left the stadium.

    Barca released a statement to deplore those actions and vowed to increase security in order to prevent a repeat.

    "FC Barcelona publicly condemns the violent and disdainful acts that our manager experienced when leaving the Camp Nou," the statement read. 

    "The club will take security and disciplinary measures so that such unfortunate events do not happen again."

    Barcelona travel to face seventh-placed Rayo Vallecano on October 27 and will hope to bounce back from their demoralising defeat with a victory.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.