Madrid, Sep 21 (IANS) The pressure continues to grow on FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman after his sides 1-1 draw at home to Granada on Monday night.
Although a 90th minute goal from central defender Ronald Araujo saved Barca from defeat against the team that travelled to the Camp Nou fourth from bottom of La Liga, the Catalans’ display did nothing to raise hopes that things are going to improve in the near future.
Perhaps disillusioned by the 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League a week earlier, only 27,000 of a permitted 40,000 fans were in the stands to watch a Barca display that at times verged on impotence, as Koeman’s side dominated possession but was unable to create any clear chances.
Only Araujo’s determination to win nearly every high ball gave Barca the chance of taking something from the game and when Koeman brought on veteran central defender Gerard Pique with 15 minutes left to play to partner Luuk de Jong in the Barca attack, the paucity of the quality players was clear to see.
FC Barcelona, famous for its passing game and introducing the term ‘tiki-taka’, had been reduced to the tactic of punting the ball forward in the hope that an attacker could get a head on it, reports Xinhua.
It was a tactic more fitting for the English fourth division rather than the Camp Nou, and it must have hurt the fans, who only four years ago were enjoying the attacking talents of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
“The Barca of today is not the Barca of eight years ago,” said Koeman in his post-game press conference, explaining that his side “lacked attackers who can destabilize rivals and that is why we began to look for players who are good in the air.”
While Koeman can quite fairly point to the departures of Messi and Antoine Griezmann this summer and injuries to Ansu Fati, Pedri, Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Aguero and Martin Braithwaite, words like that are hard for Barca fans to digest, and probably even harder for club president Joan Laporta to accept.
Koeman has given a chance to young players, with 17-year-old Gavi supplying the cross for Araujo’s equaliser, while Yusuf Demir and Alejandro Balde also started on Monday, but his credit is clearly running out.
Barcelona visit Cadiz on Thursday, returning to a ground where they lost last season, to face a rival that is just as defensively organized as Granada, and unless Barca improve both their performance and result, it will be a toss-up as to whether Koeman is in the dugout for Sunday’s match at home to Levante.