Sports

Koeman insists Spanish football is NOT in decline after Barca & Sevilla lose


Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman says it is too early to talk of a decline in Spanish football after some poor European displays in recent days.

Koeman’s side were thrashed 4-1 at home to Paris St Germain in the Champions League last week and Sevilla were beaten 3-2 by visiting Borussia Dortmund. Atletico Madrid host Chelsea and Real Madrid visit Atalanta next week.

Spanish clubs won six of 10 Champions League titles in the last decade but last week’s results, particularly Barca’s collapse to PSG six months after losing 8-2 to Bayern Munich, have led to discussions about the country’s decline.

‘This is an isolated moment that can be put down to a number of reasons,’ Koeman said ahead of Barcelona’s La Liga fixture at home to Cadiz on Sunday.

‘It’s too easy to deduce that (Spanish football is declining). Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid still need to play (their Champions League last-16 first leg games) and we can’t be making conclusions like that.’

After experiencing a dip in morale following their resounding defeat by PSG, Barca turn their attentions to looking for an eighth consecutive league win when they host Cadiz, and Koeman said the players were ready to respond.

‘The world does not end after one defeat. We have to analyse our mistakes and try to improve things, we need to talk and train,’ he said.

‘We lost a lot of balls, and we need to play with more intensity. I hope they (Barca’s players) come out strong from this and can win the game to recover our confidence. The best thing after a defeat is having another game to get a good result.

‘We are on a good run and we’re still ambitious. We know what happened and we have to react.’

Barca are third with 46 points from 22 games, nine adrift of Atletico and three behind Real, who have played a game more.

Koeman also dismissed suggestions of a lack of unity in the team after Gerard Pique was heard arguing with Antoine Griezmann during the PSG loss.

‘There’s a lot of emotion during a game and it’s good that the players react and don’t accept things if they’re not happy with how we’re playing,’ he said.

‘I have no problem with things like that happening in a game, I like it. You have to do everything to try to win a game, I don’t want my players to be quiet.’

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