Barcelona welcome Levante to Camp Nou tomorrow in La Liga and Ronald Koeman’s men are in dire need of a win. They’ve endured a rocky few weeks; humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League was followed up by lacklustre draws with Granada and Cadiz. Koeman’s under pressure.
The Dutchman has been trading blows with Joan Laporta, his president, for several weeks, with rumours that his position as coach is hanging by a thread growing in volume. Xavi Hernandez, the midfield lynchpin of that great Pep Guardiola Barcelona side, and Roberto Martinez have been named as those lying in wait.
Levante enjoy pitting their wits against Spanish football’s elite, and will post a tough test even though they’ve not started the season well. Koeman will be in the stands for the game as he was sent off against Cadiz, and he’ll be unable to call upon his compatriot Frenkie de Jong as he was also sent off down in Andalusia. Ansu Fati, however, has returned to the squad.
“Every player and every coach wants to win titles and games,” Koeman said pre-match in comments carried by Marca. He’s been keen to dampen expectation this season, claiming that it’s not realistic for this Barcelona team to challenge for major honours. Sergi Roberto and Gerard Pique have made other assertions.
“There are no differences on this issue because I’ve spoken with them. In general, the players agree. That’s the important thing. In that sense, there are no differences of opinion between us.”
Koeman was slow to comment on his future. “I can’t say much about this issue because I haven’t read the press for a long time,” he said. “I know the rumours out there, but all we have to do is win games. There are rumours, names – that’s your job. I’m not going to waste energy on things I can’t control.”