Barcelona’s shock La Liga defeat to Granada at the Camp Nou on Thursday looks like being costly both on and off the pitch for the Catalan giants.
The loss means Barca missed the chance to move top of the table ahead of the last five games of the season and reportedly also left some key players in the dressing room frustrated with manager Ronald Koeman.
After the game “several important players” expressed their “anger and disappointment” at the Barcelona coach’s management of the game, according to Toni Juanmarti at Diario Sport.
Barca took a 1-0 lead after 23 minutes but went on to lose 2-1 as Granada picked up a first-ever win at the Camp Nou. Juanmarti adds that the players still respect Koeman but believe his reading of games must improve. The frustrated message from the dressing room after the match was, “We have thrown away the months of work.”
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Pressure Back On Koeman
Thursday’s result puts the pressure back on Koeman ahead of the last five games of the season. The Dutchman looked to have turned the team’s fortunes around after overseeing Barcelona’s worst start to a campaign after six games since 2002/03, according to Opta.
Barca’s title hopes looked over at the turn of the year but the Catalan giants subsequently went on a 19-match unbeaten run in La Liga that reeled in leaders Atletico Madrid and reignited the club’s title hopes.
The Catalan giants also won the Copa del Rey in April, handing Koeman his first trophy as Barcelona boss, and ensured the club would not endure a second consecutive season without any silverware.
However, Thursday’s defeat has already brought fresh speculation over Koeman’s future, while the Dutchman may have to watch the next two games from the stands after being shown a red card against Granada.
Barca has appealed the suspension but it remains to be seen if it will be overturned. If not then Koeman must watch Barcelona play key games at Mestalla against Valencia and against Atletico at the Camp Nou from the stands.
Koeman To Make Changes For Valencia?
Barcelona and Koeman return to action on Sunday at Valencia and face a tricky test against Los Che. Javi Gracia’s side is just six points clear of the drop zone in the Spanish top flight but has a good recent record against Barca.
The Catalan giants have managed just one win their last six meetings with Valencia but know they cannot afford to drop any points on Sunday if they are to keep their fading titles hopes alive.
Koeman made three changes to his team against Granada but may make more changes after a slopping showing from his team on Thursday. Both Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti failed to impress and look likely to drop back down to the bench.
Sergino Dest, Ronald Araujo, and Clement Lenglet are all options to come back into the defense, while Pedri could return in midfield after being given a rest against Granada. Ousmane Dembele could also get the nod to add another dimension to the Barca attack.
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