Barcelona beat Real Valladolid 1-0 on Monday evening, thanks to a late Ousmane Dembele goal. Ronald Koeman admitted that his team wasn’t at its best.
The visitors were beset by injuries and played the final 10 minutes with one fewer player than the Catalans, but it took a late goal from the Frenchman to get Koeman’s team over the line.
“We lacked a lot in the first half,” Koeman said afterwards.
“We didn’t press them very well. I saw a slow, tired Barcelona from the start.
“We didn’t control the game. So we changed the system and improved in the second half.
“It was a difficult game and we were some way off our level. Real Valladolid did a good job defensively, but you have to know how to suffer and I think we deserved to win.”
Despite the difficulties, the Dutchman was pleased to see his team win despite not performing at their best.
“The guys showed that they are capable of winning,” Koeman said.
“You have to have freshness in the team. I didn’t see that and maybe it’s because of the internationals, but we’re capable of winning.
“At times you are lucky, and at others you’re unlucky. But the mentality of the team has to be highlighted because they didn’t stop looking for three points.
“We had a bit of luck at the end of the game. But I was calm, I was more worried in the first half because I saw a very different team compared to recent games. We improved in the second half and created chances. They showed they can win without playing well.”
Dembele is finally injury-free at Camp Nou, and he continues to show why he is so important to the team.
“He’s an important player,” Koeman said of the Frenchman.
“He has shown that with his performance and goal and he gave us the three points.
“He’s had a very good season, he has improved a lot. Regularity has been the key for him.”
Koeman refused to comment on the numerous controversial decisions made, including one that reduced Real Valladolid to ten men and another that resulted in the winning goal, instead focusing on next week’s Clasico against Real Madrid.
“It’s always an important match,” Koeman said.
“Even more so now, considering the situation. A good result would be important for the title race.”