Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig had a message of thanks for coach Ronald Koeman after playing all 90 minutes in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Alaves in La Liga.
The 21-year-old struggled for game time earlier in the season, and was advised to go out on loan by Koeman, but opted to stay and is starting to make an impact at the Camp Nou.
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Puig Thanks Koeman
Puig played the whole game for the first time this season on what was just his second La Liga start of 2020-21 and seemed thrilled to have lasted the whole match when he spoke to reporters after the full-time whistle.
It’s great to play 90 minutes, it boosts your morale, you go into the next week. I’m very happy and I thank Koeman for giving me the 90 minutes.
We are on a great run. It’s now seven straight wins and that shows what kind of form we are in. I felt very comfortable playing alongside Busquets, he helps me and he helped Ilaix and it gives me a big boost to play 90 minutes.
Once we got the first goal the spaces opened up for us. They weren’t so closed at the back and with the goal from Trincao we were able to take it from there. Tomorrow we’ll be ready to prepare for the game against PSG. I’m sure we will give a good account of ourselves.
Barca’s win makes it seven straight wins in La Liga for Koeman’s men and sees the team move back above Sevilla and into second place in the table behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
Puig Backs Ilaix
Koeman made plenty of changes to his team for Saturday’s match. The Dutch coach started Puig in midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and 18-year-old Ilaix Moriba who made his first-team debut.
It was an eventful match for Moriba who picked up his first assist for the club when he coolly teed up Francisco Trincao for the opening goal on 29 minutes.
18y & 25d – Ilaix Moriba has become the youngest player to have provided an assist in his maiden game in #LaLiga this century (18 years & 25 days). Premiere@FCBarcelona #BarcelonaAlaves #Barca pic.twitter.com/cphKS2QtPu
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 13, 2021
Yet Moriba was also guilty of giving the ball away in the second half, allowing Luis Rioja to pull one back for the visitors and make it 2-1. Fortunately, it did not prove to be a costly error with Trincao scoring again and goals from Lionel Messi and Junior Firpo sealing a big win.
Puig backed his young team-mate to learn from the incident. He explained, “you learn from mistakes, it could happen to anyone. Ilaix has a great future at this club.”
Both Puig and Moriba are likely to drop back out of the team as Barca now head into a Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday at the Camp Nou.
Frenkie de Jong and Pedri will be expected to come back into the starting XI for the visit of the French champions and feature alongside Busquets as Barca take on Mauricio Pochettino’s side with a place in the quarter-finals of Europe’s top competition up for grabs.