Ronald Koeman: “The best tribute to Maradona would be a strong display on the pitch tomorrow”

Ronald Koeman, speaking ahead of Barcelona‘s clash with Osasuna tomorrow afternoon, said that the best tribute Diego Maradona’s former club could give him “would be a strong performance on the pitch”.

Maradona played for Barcelona between 1982 and 1984, and died at his home in Buenos Aires aged 60 on Wednesday.

Koeman was under no illusions that Osasuna will represent a potential banana skin for Barcelona. “A difficult game awaits us,” he said in his press conference. “Osasuna will defend well.”

The Dutchman revealed that Sergino Dest is a doubt for the clash but that Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong are fully fit and raring to go after being rested midweek.

Barcelona are coming into the game off the back of a resounding 4-0 defeat of Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League, a game that saw many fringe players come in and perform exceedingly well.

“We have to wait until tomorrow to know if Dest is available or not,” Koeman said. “He trained well today, but tomorrow we’ll know for sure. Today we’ve talked about who will play there if he can’t play.

“The team that played in Kyiv gave a very good showing, and I really liked the rhythm of the game. Messi and De Jong have had a good rest, and hopefully they’ll be completely fresh tomorrow.”

Koeman was also asked about Maradona and reaching the milestone of 100 days in charge of Barcelona, a tumultuous period that has seen sporting crisis and off-the-pitch instability.

“The best tribute to Maradona would be a strong display on the pitch tomorrow,” he said. “My first 100 days at this club? I’ve had quieter days at previous clubs, but I’m happy to be here.

“It’s time to react now and cut distance with clubs ahead of us in the league table.”

Barcelona are currently 12 points behind La Liga leaders Real Sociedad and just four clear of bottom-placed Celta Vigo.

Featured image courtesy of FC Barcelona.

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