A subdued Koeman looked resigned to his fate
Ronald Koeman spent much of the game quietly reflecting on his team from the bench. He looked tired and as ready as anyone to put this season in the rearview mirror.
In many ways he has done what he came to Barcelona to do. Keep the wheels on as a new president begins the process of bringing the club into a new era.
He inserted new faces into the lineup, giving the likes of Junior Firpo and Francisco Trincao a chance to start, but in the end it was the same old performance from the start. Low energy. Little creativity. No sense of purpose.
Joan Laporta has a vision of cleaning house, and starting a new chapter from scratch.
This is easier said than done, but on this final match day, Ronald Koeman looked like a man who has exhausted all of his energy and ideas.
Dembele and Griezmann showcase their talent
For most of the game, the star Frenchmen were largely invisible and unable to impact the game.
On the game winning goal, however, they reminded fans of what we’ve expected from them all along.
Ousmane Dembele’s incredible pace and ability to carve open a defense.
Antoine Griezmann’s clinical finish in front of goal.
And yet, with 68% possession, Barca were only able to manage 7 shots, compared to 17 for their opponents. No urgency. Just passing for the sake of passing. This against a team that’s already been relegated.
Even with Messi out of the lineup, it’s disappointing to see such a lack of hunger across the board.
Except for one player.
Riqui’s refreshing display of energy off the bench
Riqui Puig has played few minutes this season, and coming off the bench for an injured Ilaix Moriba, he looked rusty.
But he didn’t let that stop him. He just did what he always does.
Head down, work hard, keep pushing.
Eventually he started the attack that produced the goal, slithering through the defense in the build up, and releasing the decisive ball forward.
For me, Riqui embodies the qualities that we desperately need from the rest of the team.
He’s hungry, energetic, and motivated to win.
If Koeman is sacked, an intriguing story next season will be the way Riqui rebounds.
From what we’ve seen in his limited appearances, I’d expect him to make the most of the opportunity if the new manager believes in him.
An admirable run by Eibar in the comes to an end
Over the past seven seasons, mighty Eibar has served as an inspiration for what small clubs can accomplish with hard work and good management.
It will be sad to see them go.
We’ll miss the intense and intimate Ipurua Municipal stadium, tucked inside the picturesque Basque country.
Many of the top clubs, however, won’t miss the rigorous competition that Eibar became known for.
They shouldn’t get used to it. With fans likely returning next season, Eibar will have their life source back, and I’d expect to see them back in the top flight in no time.
A preview of future Blaugrane Bryan Gil?
Who was that Beatles look alike with the bowl cut? That’s Bryan Gil. He’s a breakout star in La Liga with 4 goals and 3 assists, and rumored as a future signing for Barcelona.
He played the first 45 minutes today, vacillating between the middle of the field and the left flank.
He looked good. An intriguing combination of pace and technical ability. Barca had their hands full keeping him contained, especially as he made dangerous runs down the wing.
Gil could be a good addition, providing competition and depth in the attack.
But it’s also clear that no one player will be a cure all going forward.
Watching Diego Simeone celebrate a title today, I couldn’t help wondering whether what Barca really needs is a coach like him whose intensity and love for competition is contagious.
The hard work begins now. Let’s hope that Laporta knows what he’s doing.