Barcelona: Koeman concerned about fatigue, fixtures and injuries
Barça, who have racked up 27 official matches in just under four months, had three games taken to extra-time in the past week. That is a worry for the coach.
What annoyed Ronald Koeman most about Thursday's Cup tie against Cornellà wasn't the penalties which Pjanic and Dembélé missed, but the way his team were unable to resolve the game in 90 minutes. During the space of one week, three of the team's games have been taken to extra-time which means more physical and mental exertion for players who are back in action tomorrow against Elche.
Barça have played 27 official games (18 in LaLiga, six in the Champions League, two in the Spanish Super Cup and one in the Copa del Rey) in less than four months. Along the way, they have lost a number of key players to injury: Piqué, Ansu, Sergi Roberto, Coutinho... Dest missed the Cornellá match through injury which forced Koeman to start the tie with first-choice players such as Lenglet, Araújo and Griezmann and in the second half, Busquets, Dembélé and Pedri. Araújo ended the game in spite of having a scare that he may have dislocated his elbow, which would have been disastrous for Koeman, who is already short-staffed in defence.
Koeman, who has complained on countless occasions about the fixtures calendar and kick-off times, cannot moan about having to travel this weekend as Barça are at home.But he has a point about the players needing a rest. The Cornellà game finished after 11 pm and Sunday's meeting with Elche kicks off at 16:15 hours after being given the 9 pm kick-off slot for much of the season. The team's timetable has been one of Koeman's main gripes since the campaign started. His team will have just 64 hours to rest ahead of tomorrow's clash with Elche.
Wednesday's Cup tie
The calendar is relentless - after the Elche game, Barça welcome Athletic Club to Camp Nou the following Sunday but sandwiched inbetween, they have the Round of 16 Copa del Rey tie against Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday at 9 pm. Players such as Jordi Alba, De Jong, Griezmann, Busquets and Pedri are worn out after so much playing time. Oout of the injured players, only Sergi Roberto looks likely to reappear any time soon. Koeman will have to wait for Ansu and Piqué whilst knowing that the club won't be making any new signings during the current transfer window...