‘Messi was not fit to start’ – Koeman reveals why Barcelona star was benched against Betis

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The captain was a surprise absence from the starting lineup, but his unique talents were vital in saving his team from losing more points.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman decided to dispel any controversy on Lionel Messi’s bench on Saturday, after the Argentine came in to secure his side’s La Liga victory over Betis.Messi was a surprise omission from the Blaugrana’s starting lineup as they looked to end their painful streak of four league games without a win at Camp Nou.

At halftime, however, Koeman needed his presence already, throwing him into action with Barca stuck 1-1 against Sevilla squad.

Messi made an immediate impact, giving Antoine Griezmann a stunning supermodel before scoring twice himself, including his first open-play goal in the entire 2020-21 season so far.

Teenage sensation Pedri closed Barca’s 5-2 victory in stoppage time, but after the game all eyes were on Koeman and his risky decision to leave Messi out of his starting lineup.

“We spoke to Leo, who came out of the Dynamo [Kyiv] match with a niggle and he was not fit to play from the start, ”the Dutchman told reporters after the final whistle.

“He was on the bench in case we needed him. If he was physically well, he would have played from the start. “

Barca’s recent sad formative spell saw the Catalans drop as low as 14th as they took the pitch on Saturday, increasing pressure on Koeman after just a handful of games at the post.

And although they needed Messi’s magical intervention to take three points, the coach was happy to see his side create chances, while also highlighting Griezmann’s contribution as the Frenchman rebounded from missing a penalty. in the first period.

“It’s a big win for how many points we needed and I’m happy with our offensive play,” he added.

“We created a lot of danger, with a lot of chances. The draw at the break was not fair.

“We were better, missed a penalty and had more chances. We deserved to score in the second half.

” I hope [Griezmann] continues to work as it has done so far. You have to be there to miss.

“I would like to emphasize his character by staying here and continuing to work hard. He knows full well that he missed opportunities. Despite his bad luck, he’s still there to score. “

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