Ronald Koeman frankly admitted that he doesn’t think Barcelona are the strongest team in LaLiga Santander’s title race this season.
The Catalans weren’t sure of three points until Ronald Araujo‘s late header during their 5-2 win over Getafe on Wednesday.
“I don’t think we’re stronger than the other three teams [Real Madrid, Atletico and Sevilla],” Koeman said at full time.
“They’re winning games too and we all have tough matches left.
“The fight will be until the final day.”
Whether that final day will be Lionel Messi‘s last game for the club remains to be seen. The Argentine, who scored twice against Getafe, sees his contract expire in June.
“If I had spoken to Leo, I wouldn’t tell you,” Koeman said.
“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.”
The major flashpoint of the win over Getafe came when Koeman substituted Oscar Mingueza in the second half. The coach had raged at his defender for playing too high just minutes beforehand.
“He got injured and I wasn’t sure whether to take him off,” Koeman explained.
“We had to make the decision sooner.
“Then in the second half, maybe my stance towards him was exaggerated.
“He’s having a great season. But the young players must learn to be at 100 percent in every game.
“We had a dip. We struggled to get rhythm in our game. [Mingueza], Pedri, [Ronald] Araujo…
“Defensively, we let our concentration slip.
“I was angry because they weren’t playing well.
“The substitution was to get [Samuel] Umtiti on. He deserves more minutes. It’s not because I was angry with [Mingueza].
“I’m very happy with Oscar. I’ve spoken to him and there’s no problem.”