Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman gestures during the Champions League match against Benfica in Lisbon on September 29, 2021. Benfica won 3-0 and left Koeman on the brink.  (AP Photo / Armando Franca)

BARCELONA (AP) – Ronald Koeman received a pardon. Will you be able to hold on for longer?

Valencia’s visit on Sunday kicks off a round of three home games in which the Barcelona coach will try to re-float the troubled team.

After taking on Valencia, the Catalans will host Dynamo Kiev for the Champions League and their classic rival Real Madrid within a week.

The round of games at the Camp Nou comes after a FIFA date that gave Koeman the opportunity to regroup after a string of poor results for a team that is struggling to win without Lionel Messi.

Two weeks ago, Koeman was reeling on the tightrope due to Barcelona’s two defeats in the Champions League, by identical 3-0, against Bayern Munich and Benfica. Barça traveled to the Spanish capital to face Atlético Madrid, amid reports in the sports press that the club’s board was already looking to replace their coach.

However, instead of firing him after the 2-0 defeat, the club’s president, Joan Laporta, ended a silence of several days, confirmed Koeman as manager and asked the fans for patience. At the same time, the club is trying to weather a financial crisis that has made it difficult for it to retain its top stars.

Koeman asked for more time to recover injured players who could reinforce an attack without gunpowder after the departures of Messi and Antoine Griezmann. Forwards Ousmane Dembelé, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Agüero have not been available due to injuries. Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho recently reappeared after long absences due to injury.

Aguero seems ready to debut for Barcelona since the Argentine striker said goodbye to Manchester City over the summer as a free agent. The “Kun” was sidelined due to a problem in his right thigh and played a friendly on Wednesday.

However, Koeman acknowledged that every Barça coach has the obligation to achieve good results.

The subsequent weekend’s match against Madrid will be crucial for Koeman, whose team lost both classics the previous season. But first, his team faces Dynamo on Wednesday in a match that must win yes or yes. The Catalans are at the bottom of the table in their Champions League group, and in danger of missing the knockout phase for the first time in two decades.

Valencia will also be a difficult test. After struggling to find their identity, since the departure of coach Marcelino García in 2019, the team has only lost twice in eight games under the direction of José Bordalás.

Bordalás had earned a reputation for being a defensive strategist with Getafe, where he forged a competitive team despite limited resources.

Barcelona comes to the meeting in ninth place, although with one game less, on the heels of Valencia, which is eighth.

Laporta will also face a major hurdle on Sunday when its board of directors votes on its budget and financing plan to remodel the Camp Nou.

The matches of the leader Madrid and the reigning champion Atlético were postponed so that their players who played the World Cup qualifiers in South America have more rest.

The postponements could allow Real Sociedad to come out on top with a draw or win against Mallorca. The San Sebastián club is third, tied in points with the two teams from the capital.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman gestures during the Champions League match against Benfica in Lisbon on September 29, 2021. Benfica won 3-0 and left Koeman on the brink. (AP Photo / Armando Franca)

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