Ronald Koeman on Lionel Messi being benched vs Real Betis

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has provided an explanation for talisman Lionel Messi being left on the bench from the off versus Real Betis this afternoon.

Messi inspires

The Blaugrana welcomed Betis to the Camp Nou a short time ago, for their latest La Liga outing.

Barca headed into proceedings well aware that they could not afford to drop any more points, on the back of an altogether underwhelming start to the club’s league campaign.

Ahead of kick-off in Catalunya, Koeman’s men sat in a lowly 14th in the Spanish top-flight, a full 9 points adrift of table-toppers Real Sociedad.

When the 90 minutes were said and done this afternoon, though, Barcelona climbed back into the top-half of the La Liga table, courtesy of a 5-2 win.

Ousmane Dembele put the hosts ahead early on, with a rasping left-footed strike.

But, after Antoine Griezmann saw a spot-kick effort saved a short time later, Real Betis went on to level things up, when Antonio Sanabria slotted home on the stroke of the interval.

The game’s deciding moment then came at the interval.

After Ansu Fati picked up a fitness problem, Ronald Koeman opted to replace the youngster with captain and star man Lionel Messi.

And the Argentine, in turn, did what he does best, to inspire the Blaugrana to a 2nd-half rout.

Messi first created Barca’s go-ahead strike with a typical moment of genius, stepping over the ball in the Betis box to leave Griezmann with the simplest of finishes.

The Ballon d’Or holder then got in on the act himself, rattling home the hosts’ 2nd penalty of the afternoon just past the hour-mark, before finding the net again 10 minutes from time, with another rising effort.

These goals came either side of Lorenzo Moron pulling one back for the 10-man visitors, with there still having been time for Pedri to get in on the act with a 90th-minute strike of his own, capping off a morale-boosting result for Barcelona.

‘If the team needed him’

As such, during his post-match press conference this evening, it came as little surprise to see Ronald Koeman drawn on his decision to leave match-winner Messi out of his starting XI to face Betis.

The Dutchman, however, was quick to pour cold water on any suggestions of unrest.

Koeman confirmed that an agreement was put in place on Friday, whereby Messi would begin on the bench, only to be introduced if required.

This came with the attacker having been suffering with ‘discomfort’ during the latter moments of Barca’s midweek win over Dynamo Kiev:

‘Since yesterday we talked about Messi starting on the bench. He ended the Dynamo Kiev game with discomfort and was not in a position to play as a starter, only to come in if the team needed him.’

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Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has provided an explanation for talisman Lionel Messi being left on the bench from the off versus Real Betis this afternoon. Messi inspires The Blaugrana welcomed Betis to the Camp Nou a short time ago, for their latest La Liga outing. Barca headed into proceedings well aware that they could notFootball (soccer) greatest goals and highlights | 101 Great Goals – Feed

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