Ousmane Dembele hit back at some of his critics by helping Barcelona to a win over Real Valladolid.
“He’s an important player,” Koeman said of the Frenchman. “He has shown that with his performance and goal and he gave us the three points.
“He’s had a very good season, he has improved a lot. Regularity has been the key for him.”
“We lacked a lot in the first half,” the former Everton and Southampton boss said. “We didn’t press them very well. I saw a slow, tired Barcelona from the start. We didn’t control the game. So we changed the system and improved in the second half.
“It was a difficult game and we were some way off our level. Real Valladolid did a good job defensively, but you have to know how to suffer and I think we deserved to win.”
The Blaugrana were far from their best but winning despite that impressed Koeman. He continued, “The guys showed that they are capable of winning. You have to have freshness in the team. I didn’t see that and maybe it’s because of the internationals, but we’re capable of winning.
“At times you are lucky, and at others you’re unlucky. But the mentality of the team has to be highlighted because they didn’t stop looking for three points.
“We had a bit of luck at the end of the game. But I was calm, I was more worried in the first half because I saw a very different team compared to recent games. We improved in the second half and created chances. They showed they can win without playing well.”