Sergio Aguero warned teams to “watch out for Barçelona” and not to write off the Catalan giants in this season’s Champions League despite another chaotic summer that saw Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann depart the Camp Nou.
Ronald Koeman’s side have been drawn in Group E alongside Bayern Munich, Benfica, and Dynamo Kiev in the group stages and begin their campaign on Tuesday with a visit from the Bundesliga champions.
Aguero has told RAC1 he is well aware that his team is not viewed as favorites to lift the European Cup this season, but they could well surprise a few people, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“Because Barça is Barça they have to fight for all the titles. In the Champions League we are not favorites, but our rivals have respect for us. I have played many times against Barça and I know that at its worst it was still Barça,” he said. “We are going to play with that and we can get to do things well. Many people do not expect a great performance from us in the Champions League, but to those I say, watch out for Barça.”
Barcelona’s last fixture against Bayern will bring back painful memories. The Bavarian giants handed out an 8-2 thrashing in the quarter-finals of the tournament back in August 2020.
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Aguero Opens Up On Koeman
Aguero also discussed his relationship with Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman had a mixed first season in charge, winning the Copa del Rey but missing out on the league title and only reaching the last 16 of the Champions League.
The striker says he has a good relationship with Koeman and appreciates his honesty and direct style. He explained, “Koeman called me on the phone during the Copa América and we also talked when I arrived. The relationship is very good. He’s a very direct guy and that relieves the player. He tells you if he likes what you do and also he he doesn’t like it. It is better this way to know what is happening.”
Koeman will be under pressure to deliver titles in 2021-22 if he is to stay on past the end of the current campaign when his contract ends. Winning the Champions League is a big ask, given the club’s big summer exits, but the Catalan giants will be expected to challenge hard for the league title.
Aguero Talks Return
Yet Koeman will be boosted in the coming months by the return of several key attacking players from injury. Aguero and Ousmane Dembele are both expected back in early November, while Ansu Fati could return sooner having returned to training.
Aguero has been sidelined since August 9 with a calf injury and is still waiting to make his Barcelona debut. The Argentine says he expects to have to work hard to win his place in the starting XI.
“When I recover, I will surely start on the bench, but nobody is indisputable and I will try to start,” he said. “If you want to be a starter, you have to get well, make sure the coach sees you well and help the team.”
Aguero will certainly face real competition for a starting spot. Memphis Depay has started the season in strong form and already looks to have nailed down a place in the starting XI.
Koeman also has a host of other attackers including Dembele, Fati, Philippe Coutinho, Martin Braithwaite, and new signing Luuk de Jong as options.