Ronald Koeman has spoken with clarity ahead of Barcelona‘s clash with Elche in La Liga at Camp Nou on Wednesday evening, evidently seeking a response after his team’s limp failure to secure all three points last weekend against Cadiz.
Atletico Madrid had lost earlier in the day against Levante at home, opening up a window for Barcelona to put themselves back into a title race that had seemed long gone.
Speaking in comments carried by Mundo Deportivo, Koeman wanted to underline the importance of the role the older, more senior players within the club must play at the business end of the campaign, the time when trophies are won and lost.
“It’s not a case of relying too hard on the youngsters,” he said. “I always think of them in terms of giving them opportunities. When you need to pull the chestnuts out of the fire you need experienced people, and we already have a lot of young people. You have to have that balance, a team with energy and freshness.
“I think there are a lot of leaders and captains in the team. At the back you have [Gerard] Pique, Sergio Roberto, although he’s not there right now, [Jordi] Alba is an experienced player. You have [Sergio] Busquets in the middle and Leo [Messi] up top. There’s enough personality, and these players need to lead the way. They’re people with quality and personality, and they have won many things. It’s important they show the youngsters the way.”
Barcelona certainly do need to pull the chestnuts out of the fire. They’re at a serious disadvantage in both the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, having lost 2-0 to Sevilla in the first leg of the former and 4-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the latter. They’re now fourth in La Liga, a point behind Sevilla, five behind Real Madrid and seven behind Atletico Madrid.