Players need more protection while resting in Messi, says Barca coach Coeman


Ronald Coeman Lionel Messi Barcelona

Barcelona Argentine striker Lionel shakes hands with Dutch Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman (R) as Kiev Dynamo boss Mircea Lucescu (L) approaches UEFA Champions League Group G football between Barcelona and Kiev Dynamo Barcelona Camp Nou Stadium. 2020 November 4 (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

Barcelona coach Ronald Coeman has joined other managers in attracting a crowded European football calendar, deciding to take a break for Lionel Messi on Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Kiev’s Dynamo.

Barca have lost Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto due to serious injuries after losing Atletico in Madrid 1: 0 in La Liga on Saturday, leaving them with only three defenders on their way to Ukraine.

While the defeat at Atletico has secured the worst start to the La Liga season in 29 years, Barca are flying high in Europe, winning three of three in the Group G, with a victory over Dynamo taking the place in the last 16.

Coeman said his strong position in Group G was followed by Messi and Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong, but he also crossed over a relentless football schedule, saying he should take action with world organizer FIFA and his European counterpart UEFA.

“Sometimes you need to protect players because the gaming calendar is incredible,” Koeman told a virtual news conference Monday.

“We thought it was a good moment to rest for Leo and Frenkie, because most of our players played every minute with us, then they played with the national teams, and Messi had a hard trip back from South America (after playing in Argentina).”

The exhausting European timetable, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has recently been scrutinized for the growing number of injuries.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp on Sunday called Sky and BT for match planning, while Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane also said there were too many matches.

“It’s impossible to keep players fit,” Koeman added.

“Let’s look at the example of Sergi Roberto, who got hurt because he played too many games. Everyone knows this, but we still have to keep playing so many games, it’s unbelievable.

“It’s time for UEFA, FIFA to think about what they do with footballers, the amount of their games is crazy.”

Coeman added that 21-year-old defender Oscar Minguez could be awarded Barca’s debut against Dynamo due to a lack of opportunities at the back of the team and Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo still injured.

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