Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman explained why he opted to deploy midfielder Frenkie de Jong in defense against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Netherlands international lined up alongside Gerard Pique in the heart of the backline for the match with center-back Clement Lenglet starting on the bench. Miralem Pjanic came into midfield to part Sergio Busquets in Koeman’s double pivot system.
Koeman explained his decision after the 2-1 win that leaves Barcelona with maximum points from their first three Champions League games in 2020-21 so far, as reported by Marca.
Lenglet has played a lot of games and had some physical discomfort. And that is why we have put Frenkie on. He is an option we have to play when we want a defender who can move forward and look for two against one. We have taken advantage of it.
De Jong has featured at center-back in Barca’s last two games due to injuries to defenders Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo. The 23-year-old’s preferred position is in midfield but he has been deployed in defense previously in his career at former club Ajax.
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Koeman Calls for Improvement
Koeman also called on his side to improve after the match. The Catalan giants needed returning goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to be at his best to help his side secure all three points by making some important saves.
The Barca boss praised Ter Stegen after the match and also explained where he feels his players must improve.
I am happy with the result, but I am not satisfied with some phases. I think we started the match well, and we quickly made it 1-0. Then we had the second clear chance. From there, we lost control and they had a lot of danger. Thanks to Marc, who has been phenomenal, we have held on. Our game without the ball has not been very good.
It was a somewhat subdued performance from Barca but will relieve some of the pressure on Koeman after the weekend’s draw with Alaves which made it four games without a win for his side in La Liga.
Barca’s form in Europe has been a lot better. The Catalan giants have taken maximum points from their opening three games and top Group G by three points from Serie A champions Juventus.
Ter Stegen Happy to Be Back
Ter Stegen was happy to be back and making his first appearance of the season after recovering from knee surgery. The Germany international replaced Neto in the starting XI and offered his thoughts after the match, as reported by Sport.
For me, the important thing is to win this game. I was looking forward to being back on the pitch and doing what I like the most. I think they had a lot of chances, we have to improve and speak about that … but we started well, we had good chances and we could have been further ahead. Late on we suffered, we suffered a lot and it made the game a little nervous late on.
Barcelona and Ter Stegen will now switch their focus back to La Liga. Real Betis visit the Camp Nou on Saturday in the club’s last match before the final international break of 2020.
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