Barca aren't stronger than LaLiga title rivals – Koeman

By Sports Desk April 22, 2021

Ronald Koeman does not believe Barcelona are stronger than LaLiga title rivals Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Sevilla this season.

Barca – who have a game in hand – moved within five points of leaders Atletico following Thursday's 5-2 victory over Getafe.

Lionel Messi scored twice in an action-packed first half at Camp Nou, where Clement Lenglet's own goal cancelled out the superstar captain's eighth-minute opener within four minutes.

Getafe's Sofian Chakla turned the ball into his own net in the 28th minute before Messi extended Barca's lead five minutes later.

Enes Unal's penalty after a VAR review gave Getafe hope, but Ronald Araujo headed in from Messi's superb corner before Antoine Griezmann converted from the spot in stoppage time.

Copa del Rey champions Barca are a point ahead of fourth-placed Sevilla and two adrift of Madrid, and head coach Koeman said post-match: "I don't think we're stronger than the other three teams [Real Madrid, Atletico and Sevilla].

"They're winning games too and we all have tough matches left.

"The fight will be until the final day."

Messi reached 25 LaLiga goals for the season in Barca's win over Getafe, and in doing so he matched a feat achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner and Juventus foe Ronaldo are the only players from the 'top five' European leagues to have scored at least 25 goals in 12 different seasons this century.

Unlike Ronaldo, Messi has achieved his run of seasons with at least 25 goals by reaching the mark in consecutive campaigns, beginning in 2009-10.

While Ronaldo has had such seasons for Manchester United, Real Madrid and current club Juventus, for whom he has scored 25 in Serie A this season, Messi's goals have all come with Barcelona.

The twin strike on Thursday also ended a mini barren run in home league games against Getafe. Messi had previously not scored in his three most recent appearances against them at Camp Nou, his longest streak without scoring at home against them in the competition.

Messi has scored four doubles in his last six games, as many as in his previous 25 games in all competitions.

It comes amid continued uncertainty of Messi's future, with the 33-year-old out of contract at season's end and linked with either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

"If I had spoken to Leo, I wouldn't tell you," Koeman added. "The decision [to stay] is in his hands.

"He never lets his concentration slip. If he does, you don't notice it in his game.

"We need him. Today, he was decisive again. Let's hope he stays for many years."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Juventus set for talks to thrash out Vlahovic deal Rumour Has It: Juventus set for talks to thrash out Vlahovic deal

    Dusan Vlahovic has drawn interest from Juventus, Arsenal and Tottenham among others.

    The 21-year-old has 18 months remaining on his contract and Fiorentina are keen to maximise their profit on him.

    Vlahovic has netted 38 goals in the past 18 months in Serie A.

    TOP STORY – FRESH TALKS ON VLAHOVIC DEAL

    Juventus are set for fresh talks on Thursday on a deal to sign Fiorentina's Vlahovic, reports Fabrizio Romano.

    The Serbia striker has attracted plenty of interest but an agreement between the Bianconeri and Fiorentina is in place.

    The stumbling block is Vlahovic's final contract and agent's fees, with a deal potentially set to trigger Alvaro Morata's exit to Barcelona, although Romano claims there are no new talks on that.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Goal claims that Barcelona are working on a plan to raise €100million (£83m) in funds to lure Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to the Catalan club. The Blaugrana are determined to win the race to sign Haaland despite interest from wealthy giants Real MadridManchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

    - Bayern Munich's 32-year-old forward Thomas Muller has drawn interest from Newcastle United and Everton as he approaches the final year of his contract, claims Sport Bild.

    - L'Equipe claims that Bruno Guimaraes had told Lyon he wants to join Newcastle after the Magpies tabled a bid.

    - The Sun reports that Manchester United have put their search for a new manager on hold as they consider whether to make Ralf Rangnick's stay permanent.

    - Staying at United, numerous reports in England suggest Jesse Lingard is angry with the club as their demands have put off Newcastle's attempt to sign the player on loan.

    - Ousmane Dembele wants to stay at Barcelona after all, according to Sport. The France international's representatives met with Barca boss Xavi this week.

    - Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele is set to join Valencia on loan, reports Telefoot.

  • 'We'll see': Nash provides injury updates on Harden and Durant 'We'll see': Nash provides injury updates on Harden and Durant

    Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has provided injury updates on James Harden and Kevin Durant after reports that the latter would be out until after the All-Star Game.

    Harden missed Wednesday's 124-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets with "hamstring tightness" while Durant has not played since spraining his MCL on January 15.

    The Nets did not provide a timeframe on Durant's return although ESPN claimed it would be between four and six weeks.

    ESPN also reporting this week that Durant would miss the All-Star Game scheduled for February 20 although Nash did not confirm that.

    "We'll re-evaluate in the next week or so," Nash said at the post-game news conference. "We’ll see how his rehab goes and what the re-evaluations tell us."

    Durant is currently averaging 29.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists through 36 games this season.

    Harden has averaged 23.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 10.1 assists this season, but is also averaging 37 minutes per game with the absences of Durant and Kyrie Irving impacting his on-court time.

    "I think we're all hopeful he'll play next game," Nash said about Harden with the Nets to play the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

    "It's day to day, so we'll see. It's likely, probable and we're all very hopeful that he'll be ready to go."

    Cameron Thomas top scored with 25 points against the Nuggets, while Patty Mills impressed with 21 points, three rebounds and six assists.

    The defeat leaves the Nets with a 29-19 record having lost three in a row, slipping to fourth in the east.

    "Details. We're proud of the guys' effort, but details, we talked about them last night," Nash said.

    "Part of that, is we had some guys play together who've not played many minutes together over the last few years so there's some cohesion that is lacking and some understanding and familiarity lacking.

    "That's where we have to improve especially with guys out of the lineup."

  • Tite: Coutinho can help Brazil replace injured Neymar Tite: Coutinho can help Brazil replace injured Neymar

    Brazil head coach Tite is bullish that Philippe Coutinho can help replace the injured Neymar in his first appearance in national colours for more than 12 months.

    Coutinho, who earlier this month joined Aston Villa on loan from Barcelona, is set to line up for Selecao in place of the suspended Lucas Paqueta in Thursday's World Cup qualifier away to Ecuador.

    The 29-year-old has not played for Brazil since October 2020 having undergone knee surgery in January 2021.

    Coutinho's return coincides with the absence of Neymar who is out for the upcoming qualifiers with an ankle injury.

    "People always want Neymar, but at times things don't happen the way you want," Tite told reporters.

    "We feel sorry that Neymar can't be here, but we have other options. I'm talking about Coutinho. He is a player that can play in that role and I believe in his quality.

    "Coutinho is an important player and he's been recovering to his best level."

    He added: "From a social and human standpoint, I know how much time he has invested and the challenges he has faced to recover from injury."

    Ex-Liverpool forward Coutinho has started life at Villa brightly, netting the equalizing goal in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United on debut.

    Brazil have already clinched their spot at Qatar 2022, but Tite wanted to push his players in the qualifiers against Ecuador and also Paraguay on Tuesday.

    "I thought the emotions and feelings would be lighter but no, we have the same emotions and anxieties," Tite said.

    "I want to test players in the upcoming qualifiers. I still have the same pressure."

    Tite confirmed that he will field Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior against Ecuador along with Raphinha and Matheus Cunha.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.