Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman offered an update on Ousmane Dembele in his pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday’s La Liga clash at Real Valladolid.
The Frenchman has been out of action since picking up a hamstring problem in the 2-1 defeat to Cadiz but is not expected to return for tomorrow’s match. However, Koeman does think Dembele should be fit for Barca’s next game on December 29 at home to Eibar.
I think it’s a little too early [to be in the squad for Real Valladolid]. Yesterday he did part of the training session with the reserves, which is normal the day after the game. He needs more training sessions to be able to go on the squad list. He could make the squad for Eibar at the end of December.
Barcelona’s visit from Eibar is their final fixture of 2020, and the return of Dembele will be a welcome boost particularly with forward Ansu Fati also sidelined currently after undergoing knee surgery.
Dembele has made 12 appearances for Barca in all competitions so far in 2020-21, scoring four times and contributing two assists.
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Koeman Talks Real Valladolid
Barca and Koeman head into Tuesday’s match under some pressure after a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Valencia last time out in La Liga that has left the team eight points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
The Dutch coach offered his thoughts on Barca’s next opponents and what his team must do to improve. He said, “You have to play a more regular game and be better with the ball and improve things without the ball. We must have maximum concentration during the game.”
Koeman was also asked if he thought it was a must-win match for his team given their situation in the league and the fact they have dropped points seven times in 13 league games already.
Each game we don’t win is a step back but it also still depends on the results of the other teams too. I still think that there are many games ahead, in which many things can happen. The problem isn’t drawing at home to Valencia, the problem is we lost too many matches away and now we are in a situation where we can’t trip up. It is pressure on the team knowing we can’t make a mistake if we want to close the gap.
Barca will still be big favorites to take all three points despite their inconsistent form this season. Real Valladolid head into the match in the bottom three in La Liga and with just three wins from 14 games.
Koeman Not Doubting Messi’s Motivation
Koeman was also quizzed on captain Messi in response to an interview the Barcelona star has given to La Sexta where he’s talked about his determination and hunger to succeed despite asking the club to leave last summer.
The Barca boss was not surprised by Messi’s comments and offered his view on the 33-year-old attitude.
I don’t need to see a Messi interview to see how hungry and motivated he is. I see him with the team and his team-mates. It’s got to be tough for any player who has won as much as he has not to win every match. I don’t know what he said in the interview, we’ll see, but what he said about being motivated, I see that every day.
Messi equaled Pele’s historic scoring record last time out against Valencia with his 643rd goal for Barcelona. Another one against Real Valladolid will take him past the Brazil legend and out on his own when it comes to goals for a single club.