Koeman on LaLiga title race: If we win the last five games we will be champions

By Sports Desk May 01, 2021

Ronald Koeman remains convinced Barcelona can still win LaLiga, even though they have left themselves with little margin for error during the run-in.

Barca missed the chance to take over at the top of the table on Thursday, letting slip a one-goal lead to surprisingly lose 2-1 at home to Granada.

The unexpected defeat means Koeman's side instead sit third with just five games to play in the top-flight campaign, starting with Sunday's tricky trip to Valencia.

Yet with Atleti still to visit Camp Nou, a defiant Koeman insists maximum points will be enough to pip both Diego Simeone's side and Real Madrid, who are second in the standings, to the title.

"It is true that we were very disappointed because it was a very great opportunity to get to the top, but there is no more time to be sad because we are fighting with the top three teams," Koeman told the media on Saturday.

"In all the games we have a lot of possession, we create opportunities. It is true that defensively we have to improve things.

"We expect a difficult game [against Valencia], where we are going to have a lot of possession, we have to create, be better defensively.

"It is a great opportunity that we have missed, but I am convinced that if we win the last five games we will be champions."

Sevilla are also firmly in the title race too, sitting just a point behind Barca, while Granada's midweek win provided a further example of why there are no certainties in a highly competitive league, according to Koeman.

"It is a strong championship, with very good teams. There are four teams fighting for LaLiga," he said.

"If you are not well, if you lack things, then you pay dearly. That is the beauty of this season. There is no team superior to the rest. That shows that it is a very strong championship."

Koeman was sent off after Granada's equaliser and is set to serve a two-game touchline ban, though Barcelona have appealed against the punishment.

The Dutchman will watch on from the stands for the game against Valencia, but a reduced suspension would allow him to be back in the technical area for the crucial clash with Atleti on May 8.

"We are going to appeal because I think it is a very exaggerated sanction for saying 'what a character', you wear two games, if you really insult, they give you 20 games," Koeman said. 

"Tomorrow I will not be able to be on the bench, but we have technical staff and we are going to overcome it."

Related items

  • Fiorentina 2-2 Napoli: Kvaratskhelia keeps visitors' slim European hopes alive Fiorentina 2-2 Napoli: Kvaratskhelia keeps visitors' slim European hopes alive

    Dethroned Italian champions Napoli's hopes of playing European football next season are hanging by a thread after they played out a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina in Serie A on Friday.

    Napoli took the lead in the eighth minute through defender Amir Rrahmani, who nodded home a corner by Matteo Politano.

    Cristiano Biraghi levelled for Fiorentina in the 40th minute from a free-kick, before M'Bala Nzola put the hosts in front two minutes later when he fired a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

    Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia responded with another stunning free-kick early in the second half to rescue a point for his team.

    Eighth-placed Fiorentina, on 54 points and with a game in hand, are five points behind Lazio in seventh.

    They can still earn a Europa League spot either by leapfrogging the Rome side or by winning the Europa Conference League final in which they face Greece's Olympiakos on May 29.

    Ninth-placed Napoli, on 52 points, still have a slim chance of making the Europa Conference League playoffs.

    Data Debrief

    Fiorentina left-back Biraghi has now scored six goals from direct free-kicks since the start of 2021-22, which is behind only James Ward-Prowse (seven) - now of West Ham and formerly of Southampton - as the most across Europe's top five leagues in that period.

    Kvaratskhelia also levelled via a direct free-kick, making this the first Serie A match in which both teams scored via that route since Fiorentina against Lazio in April 2018 (Jordan Veretout and Luis Alberto in that case).

  • Southampton 3-1 West Brom (3-1 agg): Saints set up play-off final with Leeds United Southampton 3-1 West Brom (3-1 agg): Saints set up play-off final with Leeds United

    Southampton saw off West Brom 3-1 at St Mary's on Friday to set up a Championship play-off final showdown with Leeds United.

    Leeds thumped Norwich City 4-0 at Elland Road 24 hours earlier to book their place at Wembley, where Southampton now await on May 26.

    The first leg between the Saints and West Brom finished goalless - just like the other semi-final - but the home side's quality told in the end.

    Russell Martin's side dominated the first-half possession, with David Brooks going closest to scoring with a shot that hit the outside of the post.

    Southampton made the breakthrough via a powerful Will Smallbone finish four minutes into the second half after Gray Diangana lost possession.

    Darnell Furlong had a shot helped over by Alex McCarthy, while David Brooks - who assisted the opener - had a strong penalty appeal rejected.

    Southampton remained in control, though, and Adam Armstrong scored a second with a shot through Furlong's legs and past Alex Palmer.

    Armstrong's second goal arrived from the penalty spot in the 86th minute after Tom Fellows fouled Ryan Manning in the box, rendering Cedric Kipre's late header a mere consolation.

  • Marc Skinner signs Manchester United Women contract extension Marc Skinner signs Manchester United Women contract extension

    Marc Skinner has signed a one-year contract extension as Manchester United Women head coach with the option of a further 12 months.

    The 41-year-old guided United to their first major silverware last weekend with victory over Tottenham in the Women's FA Cup final.

    United are fifth in the Women's Super League with one game to go - a massive drop on last term's runners-up finish - but Skinner will stay on.

    "It's an honour to extend my stay at Manchester United," Skinner, who was appointed in 2021, told United's official website after the news was confirmed on Friday. 

    "I've always felt at home here, with our excellent players, staff, and fans.

    "Being able to secure the team's first major trophy at Wembley was a real career highlight for me and another sign of our continued growth, on and off the field."

    United conclude their campaign on Saturday against Chelsea, who lead Manchester City on goal difference entering the final day.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.