Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has claimed ‘it’s a pity’ Matthijs de Ligt plays for Juventus: ‘Something happened before I arrived.’
The Catalans lost their last La Liga clash away at Cadiz and are due to face Juventus in the final game of the Champions League group stage on Tuesday.
“Our goal is to win and secure the first place in the group,” the Dutch tactician said at a press conference.
“We’ll be without players like Ansu Fati and [Ousmane] Dembele. Tomorrow we’ll have one last training session and then we’ll release the squad list. We’ll put together a strong team because we want to win.”
The Catalans are 12 points off La Liga table leaders Atletico Madrid.
“It is always the coach’s responsibility because he is the one who puts the team on the field and makes the changes. The maximum responsibility is in the hands of the coach,” Koeman insisted.
Leo Messi will face Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time since the Portuguese left Real Madrid to join Juventus in 2018.
“What I want to do is communicate with Leo about things concerning the game,” Koeman said.
“We do not waste energy on external issues because we have no influence on them. As a coach I must seek the maximum performance of each player.
“Ronaldo is still among the elite players, for the way he plays and for the goals he scores. We should defend well because he can hurt us, he always wants the ball on his feet, if we keep it, he can’t create troubles. Leo and him are the best players of the last 15 years but they are different. It’s not about who is the best, we’ll have fun tomorrow.”
The former coach of The Netherlands would have liked Matthijs de Ligt to be by his side tomorrow.
“I know him well, he has experience even if he is still young. He can become the best in the world, he is also a good person. He wants to improve every day, it’s a pity he plays for Juventus and not for Barcelona even if something happened before I came here.”
Barcelona tried to sign the Dutch defender in summer 2019 but Juventus wrapped up the deal instead with the 21-years-old who signed a five-year contract with the Serie A giants.