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Ronald Koeman insists the atmosphere within Barcelona’s dressing room has always been positive despite their indifferent start to the campaign.

Barca are six points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid in LaLiga having already lost four of their 12 top-flight matches under Koeman, who replaced Quique Setien in the close season.

Los Cules were beaten by rivals Real Madrid and Atletico, as well as suffering surprise defeats to Getafe and Cadiz.

But Barca put on a much-improved showing in a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad in midweek and Koeman says wins are bound to improve the mood among the squad.

“I have always seen a good atmosphere, despite the lost games. It is easier to have an atmosphere of joy when you win,” Koeman said ahead of Saturday’s contest with Valencia.

“With the game without the ball we were good. Sometimes it depends on the opponent, but if you play a lot of long balls you cannot press.

“The game was good to be able to put pressure on the opponent. We did well. We liked having that energy and that pressure. It depends on the opponent, but we always want to dominate and play at the top, sometimes it works out and sometimes not.

“Hopefully we continue in this dynamic. It is important to have a home game and win.

“Sometimes it’s easier, if you play well and win, the atmosphere is different. It’s normal, it happens in all teams.

“I see a united group, but it’s always easier for the press to get comments, because they don’t see what happens in the dressing room before and after games.”

Koeman had a brief spell in charge of Valencia from October 2007 to April 2008, during which time Los Che won the Copa del Rey but struggled in the league.

Reflecting on his time at the club, Koeman said: “I will not have the best memory of my career there. I made decisions, maybe I was wrong.

“It was a short stay but at least we won something. It is a complicated place, with many changes of coaches and sometimes missing peace of mind to work there.”

Barca have two games before a week without fixtures for the Christmas period, but they then face a run of five matches from December 29 to January 13.

The congested fixture list will worsen if Barca win their Supercopa de Espana semi-final against Sociedad at the end of that hectic five-game run, and Koeman vented his frustration at the scheduling – impacted this term by the delay caused to last season by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I still think the same thing. The calendar is crazy. If we win the Supercopa semi-final there is one more game, many late hours,” he said.

“At least in Granada [on January 9] we play in the afternoon, but we are killing the players.”

That is a claim Koeman is now repeatedly making, having made the same accusation last week, and coaches from various leagues across Europe have raised similar concerns.

“On trips, we get home very late, and two days later another trip and another game,” Koeman said.

“We have to solve this issue in a very tight season.”

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December 18, 2020
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