Speaking ahead of their first Champions League group game against Ferencváros, Koeman made it clear he is happy with Messi's efforts and believes the player himself is feeling positive.

"There is always pressure to win games as a player or coach at Barcelona. We know the club's situation; there are things outside the pitch that we can't influence," he said on Monday.

"What we can do is work with the players to adjust to the new system and we have a lot of new and young people, but we're optimistic about the game tomorrow. I think the best way to think right now is game by game.

"Maybe Messi's form could be better at this moment, but he's happy, he's training well, he's focused, he wants to play and he wants to be captain of the team and he's improving. I haven't got any complaints.

"He also had bad luck with the ball that hit the post and with the final play of the match. Normally, he puts it between the posts! I have no doubt about his form and we'll see that in the coming games.

"I'm not worried because we've scored eight goals in four games and I don't think many teams have done that. It's normal that, against Sevilla and Getafe, it's more difficult to create chances.

"I'm not disappointed with the players. I see a happy team. I can never be disappointed with a player who works their hardest."

Given Barca's 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in last season's quarter-finals, Koeman accepts his side are unlikely to be considered firm favourites for this term's trophy.

However, he is keen to get their campaign off to a strong start in a week that ends with the first Clásico of the season at Camp Nou.

"We know that, with what happened last time, we're not the ultimate favourites, but we can go far," he said. "You always play to win games and trophies at Barça, in Spain and in Europe, but there are more favourite teams, like us.

"We want to start the Champions League on the right foot. The most important thing is to prepare for two difficult matches at home that we have to win.

"It's not an easy game and we don't think about resting people for Saturday because Saturday isn't important right now, only tomorrow is."

Sezione: Primer equipo / Data: Lun 19 ottobre 2020 a las 23:30 / Fuente: AS
Autore: Stefano Bentivogli
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