La Liga 'lacking star player' after Messi's Barcelona exit
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Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has explained why he reverted to old-fashioned tactics as his side rescued a 1-1 draw in the dying minutes against Granada. Both Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo were moved up front as a barrage of crosses were sent in, and although the latter netted in the final minute, fans at the Nou Camp were not best pleased.
Granada went in front with just over 60 seconds on the clock when former Tottenham target Domingos Duarte headed home.
It did not take long before Barca’s lacklustre display forced them to send speculative crosses into the box, tallying 54 before the game was out.
Such tactics are a stark contrast from the attractive, pass-and-move philosophies deployed by both Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique when the Catalan side were in their pomp.
Although Araujo’s header rescued a point at the death, the performance carried more than a tinge of David Moyes as Manchester United boss at Old Trafford, aimlessly sending cross after cross into physical players in the box for a lack of other ideas.
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“We changed our style a little bit,” said a flustered Koeman after the game.
“The spaces were out wide, not in the middle. We went with Pique, De Jong and Araujo and from one of those crosses we got the draw.
“If you see the list of players, what do you do? Play tiki-taki? Tiki-taki when there are no spaces? We did what we had to do.
“We tried to win another way. We don’t have players one-on-one or with speed.
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“We’re talking… I’m not going to say more because it seems I have to argue about everything.”
Indeed, Barca had to make do on the pitch while the likes of Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele and Pedri watched on from the sidelines.
Luuk De Jong had to carry some of the attacking burden in the meantime, a target-man signed in the summer who raised eyebrows over whether he had shown enough in his La Liga career to warrant such a move.
With two centre-backs up top with him, Koeman’s side earned themselves a point but the home crowd were still audibly disgruntled at full-time.
Questions have been asked of the Barcelona boss since his side fell to a humiliating 3-0 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week.
While they entered the match as underdogs, such a convincing loss reinforced the point that they are miles away from Europe’s heavyweights.
By his own admission, Koeman feels as though he has to ‘argue about everything’ at present, and the following days will surely be no less tense as he faces the negative elements in one of the most heavily scrutinised jobs in football.
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