Winning was all that mattered, says Koeman after scrappy Barcelona win

Reuters , Monday 14 Dec 2020

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Levante - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - December 13, 2020 FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi with coach Ronald Koeman (REUTERS)

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said he was more interested in ensuring his side beat Levante after Sunday’s unconvincing 1-0 victory in La Liga rather than focusing on the manner in which they won.

Lionel Messi gave Barca the lead late in the game and even though the Catalans had missed numerous chances before then, they were left begging for the full-time whistle as Levante pegged them back deep into the five minutes of added time.

Koeman brought on defender Samuel Umtiti for striker Antoine Griezmann late on to help his side see out the game and was forced to defend what was interpreted as a defensive move unbefitting of a Barcelona coach.

“I didn’t care how we won the game,” Koeman told a news conference.

“We knew we’d have to face corners and set pieces and that we had to defend by whichever way possible.”

The Dutch coach appeared frustrated with being questioned by his tactics by reporters, who he accused of seeking controversy.

“That is the typical question people ask when they are looking to cause a stir,” he fired back.

“Throughout my whole life I’ve always understood that when you’re 1-0 up, even if you are in control, you have to be able to defend. If you can’t understand that, you might as well give up.”

Barca went into the game 12 points behind pacesetters Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid after last week’s shock defeat at Cadiz and were also smarting from being beaten 3-0 by Juventus to surrender top spot in their Champions League group.

The victory saw them reduce the deficit to nine points ahead of Wednesday’s match at home to Sociedad.

“It was very important to win because of our position in the table. I’m happy with the team because we did what we had to do,” Koeman added.

“Once again we had a lot of chances but could only score one goal. It’s also related to our confidence, because if you are a forward and you score you feel more confident in your next game. I hope on Wednesday we can prove that we can play better.”

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