Why Messi had to start from bench – Koeman

Ronald Koeman has explained the reason why he left Lionel Messi out of his starting XI for Saturday’s clash against Real Betis.

The captain started on the bench but came on at half-time with the score at 1-1 and inspired his team to a 5-2 victory at the Camp Nou.

Koeman admitted that Messi hadn’t been quite 100 percent before the game and that’s why he wasn’t included in his starting XI.

“We spoke with Leo, who ended the Dynamo Kiev game with a small problem and wasn’t in shape to play from the start. He was on the bench in case we needed him. If he’s good physically, he plays from the start.”

read also:La Liga: Messi not listed by Koeman as Barca face Betis

The Barca boss also spoke about Antoine Griezmann who had something of a rollercoaster game. The Frenchman missed a penalty but then did score Barcelona’s second of the match and earned praise from his manager.

“I hope Griezmann keeps working as he has done until now. To miss, you have to be in the right place. I would highlight his character to keep working. He knows perfectly when he’s missed chances. Despite his bad luck, he’s always there to score.”

The goal was just Griezmann’s second for Barcelona in nine appearances in 2020-21. He was taken off for the last 10 minute or so and replaced by Martin Braithwaite.

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