Koeman Impressed by Pique Replacement: ‘We Can Count on Him’

Oscar Mingueza

Getty

Ronald Koeman admitted he was impressed by 21-year-old Oscar Mingueza after the youngster made his Barcelona debut against Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday in the Champions League.

The youngster replaced the injured Gerard Pique in the starting XI and lined up alongside Clement Lenglet in central defense in Kiev on what was his first appearance for the senior side.

Koeman spoke to reporters after the match and was full of praise for the youngster’s performance, as reported by Marca.

I think Mingueza has shown that we can count on him. He has to work hard to have minutes but he has been training with us for five or six weeks now and he had given us a good impression. He has delivered. I liked the team. A good game and we have worked hard, we have pressed … today’s image is what we want to see.

Barca ran out 4-0 winners against Dynamo Kiev to maintain their perfect record in the Champions League in 2020-21. The win also sends the team safely into the knockout stages of the tournament.

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Minguez Shines on the Big Stage

There’s no doubt that Mingueza grabbed his chance to shine with both hands in the Champions League. The youngster looked solid in defense, barely put a foot wrong all night, and helped Barca pick up their first clean sheet in five games.

Mingueza may now get more chances to impress in the first team, particularly as Barca are struggling for fit center-backs currently. Ronald Araujo and Samuel Umtiti both missed Tuesday’s match due to injury, leaving Lenglet as their only fit senior center-back.

The youngster may even be needed at the weekend if Araujo does not recover in time. Barcelona host Osasuna in La Liga on Sunday, although midfielder Frenkie de Jong is also an option to play in defense.

Koeman ‘Very Happy’ With Barcelona Win

Koeman also spoke generally about Barcelona’s performance and was happy with the way his side bounced back from Saturday’s defeat to Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

Barca went in at the break with the scores level at 0-0 but hit four goals in the second half to secure the win. Sergino Dest opened the scoring with his first goal, before Martin Braithwaite hit a brace and Antoine Griezmann added a fourth.

I think the team has worked very well, has put in a lot of energy. It has lacked effectiveness in the first half but in the second half we improved. It is to be very happy. I think we have done better tactical things than when we played at the Camp Nou with them. In midfield we were good, we played with a lot of intensity and a lot of concentration. In the first game we lacked concentration in some moments.

There were certainly a lot of positives for Koeman to take from Tuesday’s match. He was able to rest some of his key players, afforded a host of his young stars some much-needed game time, and saw his team secure a place in the next round with two games to spare.

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