Barcelona travel to Seville tomorrow evening to face Real Betis in a crucial La Liga clash. The blaugrana are ten points off league leaders Atletico Madrid and level on points with Real Madrid, while Sevilla are just a point behind them in fourth.
Despite this disparity, coach Ronald Koeman has seen an upturn in their fortunes recently. They’ve put together a strong run of league form, winning five on the bounce, and rallied to overcome Granada in a thrilling duel in the Copa del Rey midweek.
That result set up a semi-final with Sevilla during the week, but their immediate focus will be on Los Verdiblancos, their neighbours. Men like Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong have truly come into their own in recent weeks, with the gang led by a focused Lionel Messi keen to silence speculation by doing all his talking on the field of play.
The fixture schedule is certainly beginning to pile up, however, enabling teams to chain results in the manner in which Barcelona are doing but also leaving them susceptible to injury and disruption. The Catalan club’s Dutch coach, for one, is unhappy with the way their schedule has been loaded.
“It’s difficult,” Koeman said in his pre-match press conference as reported by Marca. “The number of games that the big teams have, with three competitions, along with the moment we’re living with covid-19, which makes everything more difficult.
“We need help. I hope that one day UEFA or La Liga will think about the number of games and what they’re doing to the players. It’s not normal, what has to be played. The trips, the schedule, playing the Supercopa with four teams. In my opinion, it’s a lot. I think this has to stop. It’s killing the players, they can’t keep it up. We’re going to have many injures because of this.”