Barcelona not among Champions League favourites, says Koeman

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's visit of Ferencvaros in Barcelona's Champions league opener, Ronald Koeman played down media talk that his side can be European champion.

Ronald Koeman's only real success as a manager has come in his home country, winning league titles with Ajax and PSV.   -  Getty Images

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman believes his side is not among the favourites to win this season's Champions League with the Catalans having made a stuttering start to the new season.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's visit of Hungarian team Ferencvaros in his outfit's Champions league Group G opener, Koeman played down media talk that the Catalans could be European champions.

"When you're at Barcelona you always want to be there fighting for trophies, be it in La Liga or Europe. We aren't the favourites, but we can go far," he told a news conference.

Barca's recent Champions League failings -- they have just one semifinal appearance since last winning the competition in 2015 -- were cited by many as talisman Lionel Messi's main reason for attempting to leave the Camp Nou during the latest transfer window.

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The Argentina forward has frequently voiced his desire to lift the trophy again and this season could be a final chance to do it with Barcelona as his current contract expires next year.

"Right now, you could maybe say his performances could be better," Koeman said of his 33-year-old captain after Barca lost 1-0 at unfancied Getafe in the La Liga on Saturday.

"But when you see him on a day-to-day basis, he's happy and wants to play and be the team's captain. I don't have any complaints or doubts about his effort."

The Ferencvaros game comes four days before the first El Clasico of the season at home to Real Madrid but Koeman said his side is only focusing on the Champions League for now.

"We know it won't be an easy game. We'll put out a strong team. Saturday's game isn't important right now - the important one is tomorrow's game. It will be a tough match as there's no such thing as an easy opponent nowadays,” added the Dutchman.

Koeman will be without goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Jordi Alba plus long-term injury absentee Samuel Umtiti.

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