Jordi Roura’s Time as Head Coach

David Ramos

With Tito Vilanova returning and the players away on an international break, the 3-1 victory against Rayo Vallecano may prove to be Roura’s last game as caretaker manager.

So how did Roura perform in his unexpected promotion from assistant coach to caretaker manager? Roura managed a total of fifteen games in all competitions and won twelve of those matches. Not a bad record for a man who was compiling scout reports for Pep Guardiola last season.

Roura_chart_updated_medium

Unfortunately for Roura, the team lost important matches during his time. Vilanova stepped aside on the 19th of December 2012 meaning Roura's first game in charge was away to Real Valladolid, a game which Barcelona comfortably won 3-1 thanks to goals from Xavi, Messi and Tello.

Vilanova momentarily returned to the bench as the team put four past Espanyol in the Catalan derby. Tito then missed the 5-0 victory against Cordoba in the Copa del Rey before returning for both the La Liga and first leg Copa del Rey matches against Málaga.

Málaga snatched a late draw at the Camp Nou in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals as goals from Messi and Puyol were cancelled out by Manuel Iturra and Nacho Barnola Camacho.. The game was one of three January meetings between the two clubs

The last game before Tito's extended break was Barcelona's first league defeat of the season. A 3-2 loss away to Real Sociedad at the Anoeta Stadium put an end to any dreams of an "Invincible" season, which was becoming more and more realistic. El Mundo Deportivo said the result brought Barcelona "down from the clouds".

El_mundo_medium

[Coming Down from the Cloud]

(via http://www.mundodeportivo.com)

Having won both of his opening games in charge, Roura's next game as head coach was the second leg tie against Málaga in the Copa del Rey. Barcelona looked to bounce back from the league upset by progressing but two away goals for Málaga in the first leg left some doubtful that Barça would progress. The players themselves though had no doubts as Barcelona eventually overcame Málaga with a 4-2 away win at La Rosaleda. Goals from Pedro, Piqué, Iniesta and Messi were enough to set up a semi-final Clásico.

In-between the cup games Barcelona continued their impressive league form with a 5-1 home win against Osasuna. Many onlookers speculated that the title was already won as Barcelona distanced themselves from second place Atlético Madrid.

The first leg of the Copa Clásico was tied 1-1 away at the Bernabéu. Madrid's impressive nineteen-year-old defender, Raphael Varane scored in the 81st minute to level the scores after Cesc Fàbregas' 50th minute opener. Although Sergio Busquets said the team would only be happy with a win, a 1-1 draw left Barça fans optimistic for the second leg. Disrupting Roura's 100% win percentage as head coach.

After two league wins and a draw, Barcelona travelled to the San Siro for their Champions League tie against AC Milan. As this was a Milan side going through transition, the recent departure of Alexander Pato and arrival of Mario Balotelli (although ineligible for the Champions League), meant Barcelona were strong favourites to progress.

However, on the night, Barcelona were lacking. Sterile domination and quick counter attacks from the Italians meant Milan ended the first leg with a 2-0 victory. It was the worst performance in a long time. Since the arrival of Guardiola it would be hard to pick a game where Barcelona deserved to lose, but this was definitely one. No speed in the play, no quick 1-2s and a virtually non-existent Messi summed up a truly bad night for Barcelona and Jordi Roura.

The speculation of the team missing Vilanova moved up a notch after that defeat as the media concluded that Barcelona needed a figure of authority to get them back on track. Unfortunately, that was not Jordi Roura.

The next defeat came soon after as Barcelona lost 3-1 (4-2 on aggregate) to Madrid at the Camp Nou as they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey. The performance looked a carbon copy of the Milan game. Although Barcelona did score through Jordi Alba in the 89th minute, Madrid were dominant. Allowing Barcelona no space, Madrid picked the right moments to attack. A brace from Cristiano Ronaldo and a goal from Varane was enough to deny Barcelona any chance of claiming the treble.

While the Copa del Rey was lost, Barcelona still had a chance to progress in the Champions League. The home leg of the Milan tie was two weeks after the Copa Clásico, but there was two league games between then. At home to Deportivo and away to Real Madrid.

The trip to the Bernabéu marked the third Clásico in just over a month and with the league situation this was arguably one of the least important clashes in recent years. But still a Clásico is a Clásico and Barcelona put out a strong side while Madrid rested key players for their upcoming trip to Old Trafford to play Manchester United in the Champions League.

As the 80th minute approached, both teams seemed satisfied with the 1-1 score line but when Ramos headed Real ahead in the 82nd minute, Barcelona were staring at a second defeat in two games.

This defeat marked Roura's third defeat in his four month period as caretaker coach. While Roura was in charge for some of the worst points of the season he also oversaw the best moment to date. Barcelona's superb 4-0 performance in the second leg against Milan reaffirmed their position as one of the best teams in Europe.

Roura's last game in charge was the 3-1 victory over Rayo at the Camp Nou. A brace from Lionel Messi and a goal from the returning David Villa earned Roura a successful finish on what will most likely be his last game in charge.

So how did Roura fair overall? A win percentage of 67% is not to be taken likely but unfortunately, for the assistant he lacked authority when it came to the tough fixtures and served as a scapegoat for some unhappy supporters.


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