Ronald Koeman is not asking Lionel Messi for more, saying his Barcelona team-mates have to change. Lionel Messi was not amongst the veteran stars of Barcelona. Ronald Koeman called on the coach to step up before winning against Elche on Wednesday.

Having suffered consecutive poor results in their previous two games, Barca went into the Camp Nou match, losing 4-1 at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and then conceding a late equalizer to Cadiz in a 1-1 draw.

Although Koeman has come to depend heavily on teenagers Pedri and Francisco Trincao this season, in his pre-match news conference on Tuesday, it was the more seasoned players he requested more from.

That would probably include Messi, the 33-year-old captain of the team, but after overseeing a 3-0 win, Koeman explained that he had not been referring to his talisman.

Messi stepped up a notch anyway, scoring with two of his three attempts, creating a further opportunity and playing a part in the build-up to the clinching goal of Jordi Alba.

After raising his 2021 total to 13 goals in all competitions, most of any player in Europe’s five’ leagues, the Barca number 10 definitely could not be doubted.

“I don’t say him when I’m talking about veterans,” Koeman said. “Many goals Leo continues to score.

Others have a difference to make, not Messi. As he has shown today, he continues to score.

Messi was not instantly joined in raising the standard of Barca as Trincao attempted just two shots from the hosts in the first half, their lowest tally in the opening 45 minutes of this season’s home game.

Then, during a tetchy first period, Koeman had no problem with Messi making his anger clear.

“In particular, everybody saw that we lacked the speed and pace of the ball,” the coach explained. “It is nice that Messi asks for intensity, as captain.”

After the break, seven attempts followed, with all three of those on goal entering the net, while Koeman ended an eight-match stretch without a clean sheet.

“It was fine,” said Koeman. “A lack of attitude was not the cause of the lack of rhythm.


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