Barcelona under Ronald Koeman has always been a rebuilding project. With the exit of several veteran players last summer, and not a lot of ready-made replacements brought in, we knew it’d take time. In addition, the coach was implementing a new formation. Youngsters and new faces are still being added to the mix, and so far, it’s only been a relatively small number of time he’s had to put it all together.
It’s natural for Koeman to ask for patience at this time. And he can point to a few matches and a few moments where the team has looked stronger than before. But right now, Barcelona are 12th after playing eight games. To be sure, the Catalans have played two games less than some teams and could in theory vaunt into the top four with two wins. However, the fact that the form guide is so grim (one win in the last six league matches) should tell you this is not a given at all.
Atlético Madrid are one of the better teams in La Liga again this year, and Barcelona looked pretty poor against them, even though the result was just 1-0.
Chopping and changing coaches can’t solve the structural problems of the team, and to fire a third coach in just one year would be an option only to be used in dire emergencies. Given the mitigating circumstances, Koeman will be afforded a bit more patience. But for how much longer?
Barcelona’s pressing is disorganized, and the defense looks extremely easy to bypass at times. This is not only about individual players, although some could be replaced, but about the team as a whole. As a unit, it makes too many mistakes and can be undone easily by even basic maneuvers.
Build-up has also been a problem when coming out from the back, and it seems there are no good solutions at the moment to what is now a long-standing problem.
In attack, the team does have flair and can score - but only, it seems, on certain days. Against more disciplined opponents, chances are hard to come by and Barcelona can be frustrated. Koeman has not figured how to unlock a team when they start resisting, and he’s gone for just adding more and more attackers from the bench, with little success.
With a couple good results, the narrative could change and it’s not impossible that this season could end successfully, As things stand however, as incredible as it may seem to say, it could be a challenge for Barcelona to even finish top four. And unless the team has a consistent pattern of improvement, pressure on Koeman will only increase.