BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona cannot afford to be bogged down by criticism over their stuttering start to the season, coach Ronald Koeman has said, as his side plot a first victory in five La Liga games when they host Real Betis on Saturday.
Barca’s poor start means they are 12th in the standings, although with two games in hand, and Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League has hardly restored confidence due to the scrappy nature of the victory.
“Teams like Barca need to be near the top of the table all the time and if they are, then there is always criticism,” Koeman told a news conference on Friday.
“I can handle the criticism but we cannot become obsessed by it. It’s a long season and we should take each game as it comes. We need three points and a bit of calm but even if we win I’m not sure if things will calm down. There’s always something going on at this club.”
Barca are boosted by the return of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who is set for his first league outing after an inspired performance against Dynamo, his first match since recovering from knee surgery.
But Koeman said the team were also working on their fragile defence after conceding seven shots on target against a depleted Dynamo.
“The main problem was in midfield where we didn’t have much control, so it was more difficult to control the game and our defence had a lot of problems,” he said.
“We need to play well (against Betis) and improve defensively compared to what we did against Dynamo. We need to be more concentrated and more organised and we’ve been working hard on that in training.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge
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