Match schedule 'killing players' says Barca coach Koeman

Barca hosts Juventus on Tuesday in its final Champions League group game, 72 hours after losing 2-1 at Cadiz which dealt another blow to its La Liga title hopes.

Having previously hit out at the number of games in a schedule further squeezed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Koeman took aim at Spanish soccer's organisers for giving his side little rest after playing at Cadiz on Saturday night.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has made another complaint about the packed football calendar, which he says is seriously harming players and will lead to more injuries.

Barca hosts Juventus on Tuesday in its final Champions League group game, 72 hours after losing 2-1 at Cadiz which dealt another blow to its La Liga title hopes.

Koeman has already lost three key players to long-term injuries this season and now must cope without French winger Ousmane Dembele, who strained a hamstring in the Cadiz match.

"We are killing our players with these schedules," Koeman told a news conference on Monday.

READ | Confident United ready for Leipzig test, says Solskjaer

"It's a real shame to lose another player to an injury and it's another reason why I keep complaining about the match schedules, we are going to lose many more players to injuries."

Having previously hit out at the number of games in a schedule further squeezed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Koeman took aim at Spanish soccer's organisers for giving his side little rest after playing at Cadiz on Saturday night.

"If you have to play on Tuesday night, for the good of the Spanish teams you need to think about the timing of the match before. You get back home at 4.30 in the morning and then you have to play again on Tuesday," he added.

"We have played five away matches this season and all of them have been late kick offs. It doesn't help the Spanish teams."

Barca and Juve have already qualified for the next stage of the Champions League and Koeman's side needs to avoid losing by at least two goals to clinch top spot in Group G.

ALSO READ | Can anyone in Spain stop relentless Atletico?

Koeman is expected to rest many players but Lionel Messi, who missed the trips to Dynamo Kyiv and Ferencvaros, is set to return for what would be his first match against Cristiano Ronaldo since the Portuguese left Real Madrid for Juve in 2018.

Koeman is relishing seeing the pair, who have been named world player of the year a combined 11 times, face off again.

"I think it is not nice to say who is better, because both are incredible," he said. "I admire both players because they give and they gave us so many nice evenings with great goals and won great titles. Lets hope we can enjoy them tomorrow."