Fri, 22 Oct 2021

Pressure on Koeman as Barca visits Cadiz

Xinhua
22 Sep 2021, 21:44 GMT+10

MADRID, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman's job is under threat if his side fails to win away to Cadiz on Thursday night.

Barca's 1-1 draw at home to Granada on Monday, in which only a late header by defender Ronald Araujo saved a point for Koeman's side, had further raised the pressure on the coach in the wake of the 3-0 defeat at home to Bayern Munich the previous week.

But more than anything, it was the performance that was so worrying for Barca, with Koeman bringing defender Gerard Pique on for the last 15 minutes to play as a target man alongside Luuk de Jong.

The sight of Barca simply playing high balls into their rivals' penalty area was painful for fans used to seeing their team pass their way through the opposition midfield and defense, and a measure of their disillusionment with the club is the fact that only 27,000 out of a permitted 40,000 attended the game.

Koeman has the excuse of the loss of Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and other squad players over the summer, and in an interview with Dutch football magazine Voetball International on Tuesday, he explained that Messi had helped "disguise" the club's shortcomings in recent years.

"It is this kind of situation that brings the best out of me and my team," added the coach.

Koeman will have to face the same problems as on Monday in Cadiz, with a long injury list limiting his options. Ansu Fati, Sergio Aguero, Ousmane Dembele, Jordi Alba and Pedri are all still out through injury, while teenage defender Alejandro Balde was forced out of his debut on Monday with a back problem.

That means Sergino Dest will have to play at left-back with Oscar Mingueza on the right, with Pique coming back into central defense.

17-year-old Gavi could be given a start after supplying the pass for Araujo's equalizer on Monday, and the youngster has been one of the bright spots for Barca this season, although it seems unlikely that Koeman will turn to Riqui Puig, who looks to have fallen even further down the pecking order at the club.

Cadiz beat Barca in their home ground last season, and Alvaro Cervera's side is capable of producing the sort of organized defensive display that gave Barca so many problems on Monday. Unless the Blaugrana are able to deal that with better than they did against Granada, it could be Koeman's swansong.

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