Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman says he is hoping for a favourable outcome in Sunday’s capital derby between Atlético and Real Madrid but insists his only concern is that his side beats Osasuna tomorrow night.
Is the Madrid derby key in the title race?
It’s important. Atlético play Madrid on Sunday and one or both of them will lose points. It will be difficult for us because we are up against a strong team.
Can you continue playing with three centre-backs with so many players out injured?
We can continue with the system, but we shouldn’t get obsessed about it. The player’s attitude is what is important. We’ve improved a lot when we don’t have the ball.
Do you think you’ve earned the right to continue for another season?
It’s not in my hands, I have a year left on my contract. Luckily, in a few days’ time we’ll have a new president and we can talk about it. I am focused on winning games and the chance to win the Copa del Rey. Everything else isn’t in my hands.
What result are you hoping for in the Madrid derby?
First we have our game to get through. We need to win that: the best result would be for the leaders to drop points.
Do you think bets for a new coach are now off?
That always happens when a new president is about to be elected. It hasn’t bothered me. I’m too busy doing my job. We have so many games that there isn’t time to think about anything else. When the new president is named we can decide as I’m getting a bit fed up of answering questions about my future.
Is your team the strongest it has been this season?
We’re doing ok, but we need to be more consistent. We have to be focused on what we are doing. We’ve still got a lot to improve.
What has changed in defence? Rivals are now getting less chances on goal.
We’ve improved by reducing individual mistakes, we are pressing more and at certain points in the game we have played three at the back which has helped us. It’s a mixture of things rather than just the system.
Does Ilaix have the same potential as Pedri and Ansu?
He is one of the younger players who we are counting on. He can give us a lot, like Riqui, who is training well. We have young players who are knocking on the door.
Is the team now able to respond when Messi doesn’t score?
It’s fundamental that the other players respond. We can’t always rely on him. It’s a good sign.
Of the three candidates, do you have any preference?
No, all three have put together good campaigns. I don;t have any preference as I don’t know them very well. The best thing is that it will be the club members who decide.
Is it still possible for Barcelona to win the double?
We have to be realistic. I have the same opinion now to the one I had before about winning something with the only difference being that now we are in the Copa del Rey final. We are still behind Atlético and if they don’t lose then we won;t be able to catch them. We lose several games at the start of the season. It will be difficult but but the team is doing well now. We will do everything we can to win a trophy.