Ronald Koeman believes that the title race in LaLiga Santander will go right down to the wire.
Barcelona are currently third in the table, seven points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and one point behind second-placed Real Madrid, but they welcome Huesca on Monday night and could therefore leap above Los Blancos.
“I have always said that it is a very long season,” Koeman said during Sunday’s pre-match press conference.
“Atletico‘s points in the first half of the year were not normal; they were strong and very effective.
“After losing away to Cadiz we have gained a lot and improved.
“The title race will go to the final matchday and it will be difficult for us, Atletico, Real Madrid. We have to go little by little and we’ll see.”
Barcelona seem to have found their rhythm and appear the most convincing out of themselves, Atleti and Real Madrid at the moment, so does Koeman agree that they are the most in-form team out of the three?
“It seems so, but we have the experience [to know] that it is not easy to keep up with this rhythm of matches, of quality… the important thing is to take it one match at a time,” he explained.
“Today the sun is shining, but tomorrow it could rain. We have to keep up the energy, be humble and continue on this path.
“We have to focus rather than look at others. All teams have ups and downs, and the ones that have the fewest downs win the league title.”
There is already a lot of talk about the summer with new president Joan Laporta, but the Dutch coach has not yet had an in-depth conversation with the Catalan.
“I haven’t spoken much with the presi because there are a lot of matches and it has to be all official for him,” Koeman noted.
“I spoke briefly on the trip to Paris, but [about] various things. We need to meet for more time. It’s not the right time to talk about it, because it’s a club matter.”
Much has been said and written about Barcelona‘s future, which Koeman is clearly excited about, but he also wanted to pay tribute to the older players in the dressing room.
“This team has a lot of potential because there is a lot of quality in the team and we have changed things,” he stated.
“It’s the path we’ve always started on, which is not finished yet. It also depends on the [senior members of the squad].
“There is a lot of talk about the youngsters, but we also have to highlight the quality, commitment and energy of the older players like Leo [Messi], [Sergio] Busquets, [Jordi] Alba, Sergi Roberto, [Gerard] Pique… In general the team has a lot of potential.”