FC Barcelona – La Liga Half a year in the Barcelona dugout
Ronald Koeman has been in the Barcelona job for six months, yet the club finds itself in many of the same predicaments that the Dutchman was brought in to solve.
On the back of the 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich, a change of coach was inevitable and the former club legend as a player put pen to paper on a two year deal.
Yet, half a year into his reign, Barcelona look set to be eliminated from the Champions League, face an uphill battle in the Copa del Rey semi finals, and lost in the Supercopa de Espana final.
A poor start to LaLiga Santander this season sees them trying to play catch-up with Atletico Madrid, despite a recent upturn in form.
We take a look back at the main talking points surrounding Koeman at the halfway point of his first year.
Koeman is attempting to lead a smooth transition from the old guard to the new, with plenty of fresh blood at the core of his team, and he’s done it well.
Frenkie de Jong has been given a new role, Ousmane Dembele is getting regular playing time, Pedri is a frequent starter while Oscar Mingueza, Ronald Araujo and Ilaix Moriba have been given plenty of chances.
Barcelona have improved in the league, recovering from a slow start to now putting serious pressure on Atletico since the start of 2021.
They’ve not lost since the beginning of the year and have put seven consecutive victories together that keep their title hopes alive.
This reaction has been, in part, due to the coach being open to change and there is evidently a better team spirit in the camp.
Koeman’s already tough job has been made far more difficult this season due to numerous injuries to key personnel.
Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Philippe Coutinho have all faced lengthy spells on the sidelines which has disrupted the team’s flow.
Koeman has gained plaudits for his honesty with the media and with those above him in the club.
He’s in a tough spot, as the club has been without a president since October, and Barcelona’s financial problems have left him without enough cover at the back.
He even attended a meeting between the presidential candidates where he asked for the signing of Eric Garcia, although his request was turned down.
His first major blow came in the Supercopa de Espana final where they were defeated by Athletic Club, bringing back memories of last year’s defeat to Atletico.
It also saw Leo Messi’s first ever red card in Barcelona colours.
After an impressive run in the Copa del Rey, Barcelona were defeated 2-0 by Sevilla in the semi final first leg, leaving them a mountain to climb to progress to the final.
Should they not be able to turn it around, it would put Koeman under the spotlight once again.
The 4-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16 first leg really highlighted that Barcelona are no longer among Europe’s very elite.
There are certainly more factors in the defeat than the coach’s role but, as ever, Koeman’s credentials will be doubted on the back of such a painful loss.