Packed schedule 'killing the players' - Barcelona coach Koeman calls for help

Ronald Koeman has called on the game’s governing bodies to look at the fixture schedule as the Barcelona coach feels the players are being killed by the workload.

The 2020-21 campaign is an exceptional one, as it started late on account of the break in the previous season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the competitions need to be concluded ahead of this summer’s European Championship.

Since the turn of the year, Barcelona have played 10 games - and have another seven to negotiate before the end of February.

Koeman can understand the issues with the current campaign, but feels the problems are rooted deeper than the knock-on effects from the pandemic, and wants UEFA to work with the national associations to ensure players are not being overburdened.

"It is difficult," Koeman told Marca ahead of Barca’s trip to Real Betis on Sunday. "The number of games that the big teams have, with three competitions, on top of the Covid situation, makes everything more difficult.

"You have to talk with the players to see how they are physically, their feelings. Sometimes you have to give someone a rest to be able to have everyone in the best condition.

"If we count tomorrow's game and Wednesday's game, there are 12 games in a row, of which 11 are away from home. And that's playing at 21:00, coming home at 03:00 in the morning. It is difficult for the players to be able to play all the time. We need help.

"I hope that one day UEFA or La Liga will think about the number of games and what this does to the players. It is not normal. The games we've had to play, the trips, the schedules, playing the Supercopa between four teams, in my opinion, it is a lot.

"Each coach has his opinion about the fixture schedule that the players have to go through. I think this has to stop, it's killing the players. We will have many injuries as a result of this. It is impossible.

Article continues below

"Hopefully one day they will make a decision to help the players with their fitness."

Following the trip to Betis, Barca face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey and Alaves in La Liga before the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain.

With Barca trailing Atletico Madrid by 10 points in La Liga and having played a game more, Koeman, who said he hopes Lionel Messi spends many more years at the club, will know the importance of having a full-strength side to call on to face PSG.