Barcelona – Reuters:
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has joined other coaches who have criticized the crowded European fixture schedule after he decided to rest Lionel Messi against Dynamo Kiev in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Barcelona lost the efforts of Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto after suffering serious injuries in the 1-0 defeat on Saturday by Atletico Madrid in the Spanish League, leaving only three defenders in the first team of the Ukraine trip.
And while the defeat against Atletico was the worst start for Barcelona in a La Liga season in 29 years, the Catalan giants are going strong in the Champions League, having scored three wins from three matches in Group G and beating Dynamo, he will book his place in the round of 16. Koeman said his team’s strong position in Group G had pushed him to rest Messi and Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong, but he also criticized the crowded fixture schedule, calling on FIFA and the European Union (UEFA) to intervene.
“Sometimes you need to protect your players because the match schedule is unbelievable,” Koeman told a virtual press conference on Monday.
“We are in a good position to rest Messi and Frenkie because most of the players have played all the games with us and also with their national teams, and Messi has faced a tough return journey from South America (after playing with Argentina).
The busy European fixtures schedule has come under increasing criticism recently after sports were hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic.