The Blaugrana were able to score one goal against Levante, with Lionel Messi hitting late before Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong scored two first-half goals against Real Sociedad midweek.

Barcelona need to be more clinical

Barcelona are on a two-legged win streak coming into Saturday afternoon against Valencia, but Ronald Koeman believes they still need to be better in front of goal. The Blaugrana were able to score one goal against Levante, with Lionel Messi hitting late before Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong scored two first-half goals against Real Sociedad midweek. “We always create chances, but we need to be more clinical,” Koeman said during a pre-match press conference on Friday. The Dutchman was asked about his lousy time at Valencia and saw him fall out with some key members of the dressing room. “As everyone knows, Valencia will not be the best memory I will have as a coach,” Koeman said.

For Koeman, freedom of the players on the pitch is essential

“Maybe I was wrong with some decisions. It was a short stay, but we won something: Copa del Rey. It’s a complicated place because they have changed a lot of coaches over the past 15 years. There is no peace of mind to work”. One of the more positive aspects of Barcelona’s play in recent weeks has been the relationship between Lionel Messi and Pedri, but the Dutchman has downplayed it. “It is important for a coach that all players are available,” Koeman said. In attack, we have players with different characteristics. We’re talking about systems, but the freedom of the players on the field is also essential. “I believe that good footballers play well and are not dependent on the teammates they have around them. There are many connections on the pitch that are also important.”

Ronald Araujo has a great future

Ronald Araujo has shown that he can be Barcelona’s long-term answer at centre-back, and it is clear that he impressed Koeman. “He is a player who, despite his youth, is physically very strong,” said the 57-year-old. “And despite his height, he is also speedy. And he has a strong character, he commands, he trains hard every day. He has to improve his first touch, his passes forward, but he has a great future. He wants to listen and improve and is open to any advice”. Comparing Araujo and another young man who was not given the same playing time, Riqui Puig, the Barcelona boss is clear where the midfielder needs to improve. “He and Araujo are different. But I like people who work every day to improve,” said Koeman.

“Today you depend not only on technical quality but also on other things. There is competition, but sometimes you don’t work hard enough in training to make the coach think that he has to change something.”