KYIV (Reuters) – Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was pleased to see his side play with a renewed sense of freshness in Tuesday’s 4-0 win away to Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League after heavily rotating his squad.
The Dutchman, who is under pressure due to Barca’s poor start to the domestic season, made eight changes from the team that were beaten 1-0 by Atletico Madrid on Saturday and left all-time top scorer Lionel Messi back in Barcelona.
After a poor start, Barca got going in the second half to easily beat the Ukrainians with a goal from Sergino Dest, a double from Martin Braithwaite and a late strike from substitute Antoine Griezmann, clinching the Catalans’ place in the last 16.
“Some games turn out better than others but the biggest difference today was how fresh we looked,” Koeman told a news conference.
“We did the right thing in resting some players and giving an opportunity to others who were in a better physical shape. We were much better in midfield, we showed lots of hunger and pressed our opponents very well.”
Koeman praised the performance of debutant defender Oscar Mingueza who was called upon as three of his four centrebacks were injured, adding that the 21-year-old was likely to start again in Sunday’s La Liga game at home to Osasuna.
Konrad de la Fuente and Matheus Fernandes also made their first-team debuts after coming off the bench, while youngsters Dest, Pedri and Francisco Trincao also impressed.
“He’s a young player who has spent many years with the club so he knows exactly how we want to play,” Koeman said of Mingueza. “He needs to improve but he gave a good first impression which is important for us and for him.”
He added: “The team played with a lot of hunger today, we scored four goals and we were able to rest some important players. The young players also got some minutes which they really deserved and they all stood their ground.”