Ronald Koeman’s first game in charge of Barcelona ended with a win as the Blaugrana defeated Nástic Tarragona 3-1 in the first preseason friendly of the week. Barça played two different teams, one in each half, and dominated both of them with Ousmane Dembélé, Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho scoring the goals in what was a fun, entertaining match.
Barça started the game in impressive fashion, dominating possesion and creating chances with quick passing and movement. Ronald Koeman lined up the team in a 4-2-3-1 and clearly instructed the full-backs to bomb forward and the front four to constantly change positions, which resulted in many good attacking moments in the first 30 minutes.
The two goals came early on, with Ousmane Dembélé scoring a tap-in and Antoine Griezmann scoring a penalty, but the goals weren’t even the best part about Barça’s offensive game. The likes of Pedri and Aleñá were constantly involved, Messi was engaged, and the team was ready to press and get the ball back.
But after 30 minutes the team ran out of energy, and Nàstic scored a goal through Bonilla and began kicking the living hell out of the Blaugrana to break the rhythm and slow the pace of play down. As we reached halftime, the first half team had done a good job and Barça had the lead.
The second half lineup had a lot of youth, speed and creativity, and Francisco Trincão and Nélson Semedo terrorized down the right wing. The two created the play the led to a penalty just five minutes in, and Philippe Coutinho scored Barça’s third of the game.
After the third goal Barça continue to create with their pace and skill, and Konrad de la Fuente almost got the fourth after a genius pass from Trincão but was called for offside. Trincão, Coutinho and Konrad were excellent as they constantly switched positions to create attacking chances, and both Frenkie De Jong and Riqui Puig provided support and passing behind them.
Nástic were more intense than Barça in the final 20 minutes and had a couple of dangerous moments, but nothing to truly bother Iñaki Peña in goal. Barça could have made it four or five in the final minutes, but Konrad and Martin Braithwate missed a couple of big chances in front of goal.
The final whistle came to end Ronald Koeman’s first game in charge, and it was a good one. 22 players in action, plenty of encouraging signs and a very exciting second half team with young players hungry to prove their worth.
Barcelona 1st Half: Neto; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, Aleñá; Messi, Pedri, Dembélé; Griezmann
Goals: Dembélé (5’), Griezmann (17’ pen)
Barcelona 2nd Half: Peña; Semedo, Araujo, Cuenca, Firpo; Puig, De Jong; Trincão, Coutinho, Konrad; Braithwaite
Goal: Coutinho (51’ pen)