Barcelona Boss Koeman Defends Umtiti After Sevilla Nightmare

Samuel Umtiti

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Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said it’s “not fair” to go after center-back Samuel Umtiti in the wake of the club’s disappointing 2-0 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

The Frenchman started the game in central defense alongside 21-year-old Oscar Mingueza for the Catalan giants and was involved in both of Sevilla’s goals.

The victory means Barcelona face a tough test making it through to the final of the competition and will need to produce an impressive comeback at the Camp Nou on March 3 to overcome Sevilla in the return leg.

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Koeman Talks Umtiti

Koeman offered his thoughts after the match and explained that it was his decision to start Umtiti over Clement Lenglet. The Dutch coach admitted Umtiti had made a mistake for the second goal but didn’t feel he should take all the blame for the defeat, as reported by Marca.

Lenglet has not had physical problems. It was a technical decision. There are many games, every three days, and we have few people behind. You have to try to have everyone available.

In two plays we have left too much space. In the first goal, from midfield, not just from behind. In the second goal I tell the defenders that they have to keep running and not throw offside. It was a bad decision by Umtiti on that play. He was good in other games and has made mistakes like everyone else. It’s not fair to go after him. The team was good, we all lost and we all won.

Umtiti has returned to full fitness this season after being plagued by knee trouble and had been in good form earlier in the campaign. However, his display against Sevilla follows on from a poor showing in the last round of the competition against Granada when he gifted the hosts the opening goal.

Umtiti was also caught out for the second goal and unable to catch up with 35-year-old Roberto Soldado who finished confidently. Yet the mistakes did not prove too costly as Barca eventually ran out 5-3 winners.


Koeman Talks Second Leg

Koeman’s will know his hopes of lifting a first trophy as Barcelona boss took a hit against Sevilla, but the Dutchman believes his team’s home form means the tie is not over yet.

The return leg is difficult with a 2-0. We had chances to score, their defense was good and their goalkeeper was good. This team at home is capable of anything.

We played against a great team. They created little, I think we were good defensively. Before 1-0 we had a great opportunity. In the second half we also did everything to score. I’m impressed with the wear and tear on the team today, with so many games and such a tight schedule.

Barcelona have managed to pull off some impressive comebacks this season, particularly in the last round against Granada. The Catalan giants also came from behind to see off Real Betis on Sunday and will need to show plenty of fighting spirit in the return fixture if they are to keep their cup hopes alive.

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