Coutinho delivers again
Philippe Coutinho continues to deliver the goods for Barcelona and scored the all-important equalizer at the Camp Nou to secure a point.
Coutinho now has two assists and a goal from his first three La Liga games back at Barcelona and can be pretty pleased with how his second spell at the club is going.
He seems determined to prove himself at the Camp Nou this time around too as he explained in his post-match comments.
He said: “The important thing is that I’m really looking forward to working, playing well, and doing important things for this club.”
It’s been a satisfying start to life back at Barcelona for the Brazilian, let’s hope he can continue this form for the rest of the campaign.
Araujo stakes a claim
Ronald Araujo came in for the suspended Clement Lenglet against Sevilla and showed he’s ready for the first team. The center-back hasn’t yet been officially promoted but seems guaranteed to spend the campaign with the senior squad.
The Uruguay international certainly made amends for the last time he took on Sevilla, when he was sent off 14 minutes after his arrival, and indeed was one of Barca’s better players on Sunday.
Koeman certainly thought so and took time out to praise the 21-year-old after the match.
“Araujo played a very great game today, he is confident and physically strong. We are working with him very well on the subject of building from behind. He has a great future. He has a lot to improve also, and we are here to help him.”
Araujo now looks to be Barca’s third option at center-back back this season, above Samuel Umtiti and Jean-Clair Todibo, and could yet be joined by Eric Garcia before the close of the transfer window.
Koeman has work to do
Koeman has earned plaudits for Barcelona’s first two games, and rightly so, but the draw with Sevilla showed the Dutch coach still has plenty of work to do. The team looked toothless in attack and their midfield failed to impress.
The new Barcelona boss has stuck with the same team for the first three games, apart from replacing the suspended Clement Lenglet, and maybe that showed too. The players tired towards the end, unsurprisingly given the hectic start to the season.
Koeman now has two weeks to think things through before another run of testing games at the end of the month. Getafe and Real Madrid await in La Liga, while Ferencvaros and Juventus are up in the Champions League.
Griezmann & Roberto under pressure
One of Koeman’s big questions is what to do with the right side of his team. Sergi Roberto and Antoine Griezmann both failed to shine against Sevilla and will come under pressure for their places.
Roberto has started the season well but this was a definite step backwards, and on a night when Sergino Dest made his debut too. The new-boy may be needed on the left side, with Jordi Alba hobbling off, but he will definitely be eyeing Roberto’s place in the starting XI.
Griezmann too had another tough night in a Barca shirt. Koeman said after the game he should have scored one of two good chances, and it was no surprise to see him taken off yet again.
Francisco Trincao may be a better option in attack, or Ousmane Dembele if he stays, but right now Koeman seems no closer to finding out how to get the best out of Griezmann at the Camp Nou.
What now for Dembele?
There’s been plenty of talk about Ousmane Dembele ahead of the match, but the fact the Frenchman didn’t get off the bench for the second match in a row means there will be even more afterwards.
Dembele certainly would have been an interesting substitute but again Koeman went for Pedri and Francisco Trincao, leaving the Frenchman to twiddle his thumbs in the stands once more.
Koeman hardly offered Dembele assurances on his future after the game either.
“What is certain in the world? I don’t know. At the moment he’s a Barcelona player. There’s still one day left for incomings and outgoings. We’ll see.”
It’s not clear yet if Dembele will still be a Barcelona player when the transfer window closes later today or if Koeman is willing to offer the 23-year-old chances to impress if he does stay at the Camp Nou.