Koeman still hasn’t won a big game
Sunday’s Clasico against Real Madrid was another big game for Barcelona and another failure from coach Ronald Koeman who hasn’t managed a single victory in a key game since taking over.
Yes, things may have been different if Sergino Dest had opened the scoring for Barcelona but, simply put, Real Madrid were better in pretty much every area and also had a clear plan.
Barca may be in a team in transition but they still have bags of quality players and should be better than they are under Koeman. His record in big games since taking over is really quite shameful given the talent he has at his disposal.
Barca under Koeman— Tom Allnutt (@TomAllnuttAFP) October 24, 2021
--La Liga top 3 and UCL knock-outs--
L Barca 1-3 Madrid
L Atleti 1-0 Barca
L Barca 1-4 PSG
D PSG 1-1 Barca
L Madrid 2-1 Barca
D Barca 0-0 Atleti
L Atleti 2-0 Barca
L Barca 1-2 Madrid
The Dutchman said after the game his team “had shown that we are not inferior to Real Madrid” which is curious seeing as they certainly looked second best out on the pitch throughout the 90 minutes.
Koeman has now become just the second man in history to lose his first three Clasicos, and the way things are going it would be a sad state of affairs if he’s still in charge of the club in March when Barca are due to visit the Santiago Bernabeu.
Sergino Dest’s miss the turning point?
Of course things might have been different if Dest had not spurned a glorious chance to open the scoring on 25 minutes. The USMNT star only had Thibaut Courtois to beat but somehow manage to send the ball miles over the bar.
Dest may be a full-back playing in an unfamiliar position but it was still a bad miss by the 20-year-old. His miss was not the reason Barcelona lost but it certainly felt like a turning point in the game.
Barca knew they wouldn’t get too many chances against Real Madrid and would have to be clinical when opportunities did arise. The Catalans had started the match fairly well but Dest’s miss seemed to drain what little confidence the fragile hosts had.
Aguero gets off the mark for Barcelona
The only consolation from Sunday’s game was the sight of Sergio Aguero opening his account for Barca. The Argentine converted from close range with Dest making some amends for his miss by picking up an assist.
Aguero’s only played 35 minutes this season after finally returning from injury and his goal meant little in the context of the game but should help the striker settle following his summer move
1 - At 33 years and 144 days, @FCBarcelona's Sergio Agüero has become the oldest player to score in his first #ElClásico appearance in @LaLigaEN in the 21st century, surpassing Arturo Vidal in October 2018 (31 and 159). Optimism. pic.twitter.com/wiwgUT0FbL— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 24, 2021
It’s not the first time Aguero has scored against Real Madrid. He netted four times against Los Blancos during his time with Atletico Madrid but he still needs to raise his game if he’s to prove a success at the Camp Nou.
Memphis is fizzling out
Aguero’s return could also prove important with Memphis Depay rapidly fizzling out after a bright start to life at Barcelona. The Netherlands international hasn’t scored from open play for Barcelona since August and didn’t look like ending that drought on Sunday.
Barca have had to rely heavily on Memphis since he joined the club due to injuries in attack and he certainly isn’t looking quite as fresh and hungry as in the early weeks of the campaign when he made an instant impact.
Memphis didn’t manage a single shot on target on Sunday but also lost possession 16 times, most importantly when he gifted the ball to David Alaba. The Austrian went on to net the opener following good work from Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo.
The return from injury of Ansu, Aguero and, possibly soon Ousmane Dembele, will ease Barca’s reliance on Memphis and means he may need to raise his game to stay in the starting XI.
More injuries ahead of Rayo test
Sunday’s Clasico may also prove costly in terms of injuries. Frenkie de Jong is now set to miss Barca’s next game against Alaves after aggravating a hamstring injury and could also sit out the visit from Alaves.
There are also a few concerns over Ansu Fati who also came off in the second half and appeared to have some knee pain. Ronald Koeman sought to play down any Fati injury concerns after the match but it’s a bit of a concern given he’s only just back after 10 months out.
The absence of De Jong is a further blow to Koeman and his plans for the trip to Rayo, particularly as there’s no guarantee Pedri will be back from injury. Wednesday’s match looks to be a tricky test too with Rayo having started life back in La Liga in good form.