Ronald Koeman attributed Barcelona’s 2-0 LaLiga victory over Sevilla to the squad’s composure when in possession of the ball.
The 16-time Spanish champions took a first-half lead against their fourth-placed rivals after Ousmane Dembele found the back of the net in the 29th minute.
Lionel Messi then capped the victory with a late strike in the 85th minute, securing three points for his side and boosting their hopes of overturning an unfavourable 2-0 goal deficit when the two teams meet in a Copa del Rey semi-final second leg on Wednesday.
“I am very proud, especially in physical terms because we have equalled a very strong team without the ball and with the ball we have been calm,” the Dutch manager said in the post-match press conference, reported by the Barca Times.
“That has been the difference, Ilaix (Moriba) came in strong, very calm with the ball, he helped us.
“We changed the system to put more pressure on Sevilla, we didn’t leave them alone throughout the match, the key today was not to let Sevilla play and be very aggressive.
“Wednesday will be another game, we will both try to improve.
“The first thing we have to do is show today’s ambition of the team, if we play a full game again, we will have chances.”
Notably absent was French forward Antoine Griezmann, who was limited to a place on the bench, but Koeman denies that his omission is indicative of any underlying troubles between the striker and his manager.
“Zero minutes for Griezmann? There is no message for Griezmann,” he said.
“We changed the system to take advantage of Dembele’s speed and then (Martin) Braithwaite came in because he was the best for the team.”