Ronald Koeman was able to experience the disappointment of Lionel Messi after the Barca star was sent off when he lost to Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana final early this morning.
Messi was sent off for the first time in his club career as the LaLiga giants lost 2-3 to Athletic in extra time at Seville.
After Bilbao star Inaki Williams scored his team’s third goal in extra time, Messi was spotted hitting Asier Villalibre in a ball-free incident detected by referee Jesus Gil Manzano via video refereeing assistance (VAR) before being sent off.
Messi – who is linked with a move to Camp Nou to join Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) – will face a suspension but Barca head coach Koeman defends the 33-year-old.
“I can understand why Messi did it,” Koeman said after the match.
“I don’t know how much they abused him and it was normal for him to react after they always tried to abuse you as a player who always wanted to dribble with the ball but I have to look at it again carefully,” he said.
Messi, who was fouled eight times against Bilbao, has just recovered from a minor injury to be listed in his 753rd appearance with the Catalan club.
“Leo, after a few years in elite football, is very aware of whether he is in the best condition or not.
“We have talked before, he said that he is in the best condition to act, he has given as much as possible and there are no other issues,” he added.