Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman is in defiant mood after Tuesday’s demoralizing 4-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and will pass on a “no surrender” message to his players for the rest of the season.
The loss has left Barca’s European hopes in tatters but Koeman is refusing to give up on the 2020-21 campaign just yet, according to Gabriel Sans at Mundo Deportivo. The Barca boss thinks his team can make up ground in La Liga and overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
Koeman believes that if Barca can put together a good run of results they can renew confidence and morale ahead of the second leg against PSG which does not take place until March 10.
It will take something really special for Barca to keep their Champions League hopes alive, but history does suggest it’s not completely impossible. The Catalan giants lost the first leg 4-0 when the two teams met in the competition back in 2017 but came back to win 6-5 on aggregate in one of the most extraordinary comebacks in the competition’s history.
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Can Barca Catch Atletico?
The Barca boss has been critical of the congested schedule this season, but the fixture list in La Liga may be one reason he’s not giving up hope just yet. Atletico are nine points clear of Barca but have dropped points in two of their last three games and face a grueling run.
Diego Simeone’s side were held by Levante last time out and take on Paco Lopez’s side again on Saturday. The game comes just three days before Atletico’s vital Champions League clash against Chelsea which could prove a distraction.
The Rojiblancos then face matches against Villarreal, Real Madrid, Athletic, and Getafe before they play the second leg of their Champions League match against Thomas Tuchel’s side.
It’s a run of games that could see more dropped points and is in sharp contrast to Barca’s fixture list. The Catalan giants take on Cadiz, Elche, Sevilla, Osasuna, and Huesca, with only Julen Lopetegui’s side in the top half of the table. Barca will also play three of those matches at home.
More Barcelona Comebacks?
Barca will still need to mount an impressive comeback if they are to keep their Copa del Rey and Champions League hopes alive but may have been boosted by Sevilla’s performance in the Champions League.
Lopetegui’s side, who have impressed defensively this season, were beaten 3-2 at home by Borussia Dortmund which will offer the Catalans hope they can find the goals needed to overturn their first-leg 2-0 loss.
A comeback against Sevilla may then breed confidence Barca can do the same against PSG, although it will need the club to pull off a remarkable performance to progress to the quarter-finals.
Koeman admitted as much straight after the game at the Camp Nou. The Dutchman told reporters, “there are very few chances of going through.” However, after a few days of reflection, it seems the coach has had a change of heart and is refusing to give up hope just yet.