Barca shoot themselves in the foot again
Barcelona’s fourth La Liga defeat of the season came courtesy of two defensive mistakes that left manager Ronald Koeman fuming at his team after the match.
Oscar Mingueza’s poor header led to the opening goal, while the second was simply embarrassing stuff from Jordi Alba, Clement Lenglet and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Koeman blasted his team’s attitude and “lack of aggression” against Cadiz, and he must be concerned that it’s not the first time this season that individual errors have cost his side.
This season Barcelona have dropped 11 points away from home conceding the following five goals:— Tim Lee (@timjollylee) December 5, 2020
- Penalty conceded by de Jong at Getafe
- Error by Neto at Alavés
- Error by ter Stegen at Atlético
- Error by Mingueza at Cádiz
- Error by Lenglet/Alba at Cádiz
Barca have been poor away from home for some time now, and Saturday’s showing proved they remain a soft touch on their travels in La Liga.
Koeman’s men have now lost three of five on the road, with their only win so far coming at Celta Vigo. Interestingly they have also gone behind in six of their 10 league games this season and have failed to come back and win any of them.
Title already a distant dream?
Saturday’s defeat means Barca are already 12 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid after 10 games played, and although it’s still only early the chances of Koeman’s side winning the title already look slim.
Atletico eased to a 2-0 win over Real Valladolid on Saturday and remain the only unbeaten team left in La Liga. Diego Simeone’s side have also conceded just two goals so far in 2020-21.
The Rojiblancos’ title credentials will get a stiff test next time out against Real Madrid, while Barca now head into a run of three La Liga fixtures in a row at the Camp Nou against Levante, Real Sociedad, and Valencia.
Of course there’s no doubt that Simeone’s men will drop points between now and the end of the season, the only thing is that on current form Barca look as though they will probably drop more.
Barca’s worst start since 1987-1988
Koeman’s men have just 14 points from their opening 10 games, leaving them in seventh place and meaning they are closer in points to the bottom of the table than the top.
Their tally mean it’s now the club’s worst start to a season for over 30 years which will only put pressure on Koeman to turn results and performances around quickly if he is to stay in his job.
14 - Barcelona have earned just 14 points in their opening 10 LaLiga games this season, their lowest tally at this stage since 1987/88 season (13, three points per win), the previous campaign to Johan Cruyff arrival Barcelona as manager. History. pic.twitter.com/gphAEr5EEg— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 5, 2020
Koeman criticized his players after the match and it will be interesting to see what he does next after another disastrous display. Barca’s defense continues to look shaky, the attack is misfiring and any progress made from recent big wins over Ferencvaros, Dynamo Kiev and Osasuna seems to have been lost.
Coutinho, Messi & Griezmann struggle
Koeman opted to start Philippe Coutinho, Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann against Cadiz but it really didn’t work as the trio simply seemed to get in each other’s way and left Barca badly lacking width.
Coutinho predictably struggled out on the left and it was no surprise to see him hooked at half-time along with Oscar Mingueza. Ousmane Dembele and Pedri came on for the second half but could not help turn the game.
Koeman ended up throwing on Francisco Trincao and Miralem Pjanic late on in the hope that something might happen but Barca still lacked the craft and penetration required to produce a goal. Their defensive problems unfortunately stole the show against Cadiz but Koeman also has real issues finding the right balance in attack.
Coutinho started the season brightly after his loan spell with Bayern but has struggled since returning from injury and on current form simply doesn’t deserve a place in Koeman’s starting XI.
Will Koeman shake things up?
Koeman’s frustration after the match was understandable but the big question now is whether he will shake things up in a bid to get his underperforming team back to winning ways. Lenglet is likely to keep his place because there are few other options right now, although Ronald Araujo is likely to return next time out at Mingueza’s expense.
Miralem Pjanic continues to push for a start and continues to look a better bet than Sergio Busquets. The Spain international actually enjoyed one of his better performances against Cadiz but is still a source of frustration.
Koeman doesn’t seem keen on trusting his young midfielders but Riqui Puig and Carles Alena may also enter his thinking in the coming games in order to add some much-needed energy, dynamism and hunger to his team.
The loss of Dembele to injury is another blow for Barca and adds to their attacking problems. Pedri will surely return to the starting XI in place of the ineffective Coutinho, while Dembele’s injury could mean more game time for Francisco Trincao or even Konrad de la Fuente.