Ronald Koeman wants his Barcelona aspect to win massive when it visits Atletico Madrid to have a shot at saving his job.
That’s, if he makes it to Saturday.
Two embarrassing losses to start out the Champions League have left the Dutch coach beneath excessive strain earlier than a visit to the capital to face the Spanish league’s titleholder.
Shedding 3-Zero to Bayern Munich, a European juggernaut, two weeks in the past was humbling. However to observe that up with one other 3-Zero loss at Benfica, a workforce it had not misplaced to since 1961, on Wednesday could also be an excessive amount of for the membership’s management to take.
Koeman spoke after the match in Lisbon like a person who knew his time at Camp Nou could possibly be counted in days, if not hours.
“As for my future, I can not say something as a result of I don’t know what the membership thinks about it,” Koeman stated. “It isn’t in my palms. We are going to see . . . on the finish, the responsible get together is the coach.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 29, 2021
Membership president Joan Laporta and Koeman have been at odds since Laporta returned to run the membership final March. Laporta went so far as to search for one other coach within the offseason earlier than lastly selecting holding Koeman for the second 12 months of his contract.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 29, 2021
Laporta and Koeman have shared the necessity to persuade Barcelona’s followers to decrease expectations for the reason that membership was saddled with over a billion euros in debt and unable to pay Lionel Messi’s wages. However the workforce has hit new lows that even with the exit of the almighty Messi are tough to take.
A sixth-place standing within the Spanish league has virtually turn out to be respectable for the previous champions in comparison with its dismal displaying within the Champions League.
Barcelona is in final place of Group E and liable to not making the knockout rounds for the primary time in 20 years. Most worryingly, a Barcelona workforce that prides itself on all the time delivering attacking soccer has not even generated a shot on the right track in 180 minutes.
By no means shy to level out his workforce’s shortcomings, nor spare his gamers from what he considers simply criticism, Koeman unfold among the blame.
“Everybody is aware of the issue of Barcelona immediately,” he stated. “The workforce just isn’t the identical because it was for years. We noticed that in immediately’s recreation. It’s crystal clear. We now have misplaced gamers who made the distinction . . . I’m not saying that we have now to just accept it or that I’ve no duty, however in immediately’s recreation we must always have gotten extra from our gamers.”
Koeman’s ways towards Benfica, nonetheless, had been additionally questionable. As an alternative of changing Gerard Pique with one other defender when he picked up an early yellow card, Koeman shifted Frenkie de Jong into his backline. Barcelona suffered much more attempting to arrange its forwards with out De Jong in a artistic function.
When requested if he thought the workforce wanted a brand new supervisor, De Jong responded with a curt “No.”
“You’ll be able to solely get out of this example for those who keep united and work collectively,” the Netherlands midfielder stated.
Atletico was having its personal troubles earlier than Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez, each former Barcelona gamers the membership couldn’t afford to pay, scored late to struggle again 2-1 at AC Milan on Tuesday.
The match at Wanda Metropolitano will come earlier than a weeklong worldwide break, providing Barcelona a window to make a training change if desired.
Former midfielder Xavi Hernandez has lengthy been tagged as a future Barcelona coach, whereas Spanish media speculates that Belgium supervisor Roberto Martinez and former Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo could possibly be within the operating. Laporta stated throughout his presentation this summer season that sports activities director Jordi Cruyff may be used as a “wild card in an emergency.”
Past the workforce’s quick struggles, Barcelona was dealt a more durable long-term blow by the Spanish league hours earlier than it misplaced at Benfica.
Barcelona’s new wage cap has been slashed to 97 million euros ($113 million), about 285 million euros ($334 million) lower than a 12 months in the past and 7 instances smaller than that of Actual Madrid, as a consequence of losses it incurred by the poor administration of Laporta’s predecessors and the financial affect of the pandemic.
So Koeman or not, the glory days of Barcelona received’t seemingly be coming again quickly.