Ronald Koeman and FC Barcelona are going the wrong way, with two consecutive draws and nothing to show that strengthens the coach’s continuity at the club
Ronald Koeman is a bit like a blind bat. He sees extraordinary things sometimes, with introducing a world-class youngster like Pedri, and yet refuses to bench an 18 year old playing his very first season of top-flight Spanish football even though the player seems to running on fumes.
He sees Ilaix Moriba, no doubt a good player for his age, as someone who can rupture Atletico’s defense, but is completely oblivious of the fact that Moriba is not yet capable of playing at that level. And there probably is some beef between him and Riqui Puig, because why, oh why, will you bench a player who has delivered almost every time you have brought him on and bring Spanish bottler Sergio Roberto?
FC Barcelona is in dire straits right now, truthfully so, as even though the fact that they came close to winning the league from what looked like an impossible task given last year’s debacle, they do not seem to be there when it matters. And no, Lionel Messi, is not to blame.
Lionel Messi’s average goal per game ratio is 0.9. He has scored 29 goals in 34 games. He is definitely not the problem. So, what is?
It is to be noted beforehand, that FC Barcelona has the highest number of chances created in La Liga. That too, without a traditional striker. It should also be noted that they have the highest number of chances missed. That too, because they are playing without a traditional striker.
Coming to the point, Ronald Koeman fields a back three of Gerard Pique, C. Lenglet and Roberto at half time due to Araujo’s substitution for discomfort. Sergio Roberto is not a centre back and has never been. In the last three league games that Barcelona are supposed to have, they all are, in actuality, title deciders or finals.
Throughout the whole season, when the back three of Mingueza, Araujo and Lenglet have given consistently good results week in and week out, what prompts Koeman to start experimenting in the defence when there are literally two league games left, and moreover, the title is not dependent on FC Barcelona anymore? Surely, his bat brain knows best.
He benches Mingueza, for the simple reason of him going into offense whereas Koeman himself has been the club’s all time highest scoring defender (253 goals). Koeman is intelligent, it seems.
For him to bench Mingueza, there had to be other aspects as well, where the defender does not perform well. But if you look at the stats, Mingueza has been more efficient as a wing back and as a centre back than Pique himself in this season. And it was his offensive capability that led to his assist for Griezmann’s goal against Villareal.
Statistics show that each time a back four of Roberto, Pique, Lenglet and Alba has been fielded, FC Barcelona have struggled at the back. But a back three of Araujo, Mingueza and Lenglet has not been infiltrated, with Dest and Alba as wing-backs.
There are very few press resistant midfielders like Busquets in Barca. His distribution of the ball speaks volumes, and the inevitable fact that without Busquets in the team, Barcelona would never have been Barcelona.
Having said that, one player capable of volumes of press-resistance is Riqui Puig. The intelligent decision to put in a press-resistant player against a defensive and aggressively pressing team like Atletico Madrid should be any manager’s first step.
After Busquets gets injured, Ronald Koeman substitutes him for Ilaix Moriba. And guess what, Ilaix is a physical player, not a press-resistant, ball threading midfielder. The question thus arises: Does Koeman not see Riqui Puig to be press-resistant? And Puig has Barca DNA too, unlike Miralem Pjanic and a few others. So he should be fitting inside FC Barcelona’s system like a hand in a glove.
With just two games left for the season, Sergio Busquets had this to say in a post match interview: “The league is practically over for us now. We have paid for our mistakes.”
Ronald Koeman has to answer for his in-efficient decisions, lack of game time for Puig and Pjanic and why his team is unable to deliver when it matters the most. In a previous article by SportsKindle, it probably is not the same anymore. FC Barcelona, cannot make it or break it anymore. Their only job that remains is a thorough future planning and to bring in a coach who sees what is as what is and implements a better and eventful future for Blaugrana fans worldwide and Barcelona itself.