By Chima Azu
Barcelona played out a 1:1 draw last night with Deportivo Alaves at the Camp Nou, the first match after the departure of Ronald Koeman who was fired few days ago. Barca took the lead with an astonishing long range shot from Memphis Deepay which went straight into the top corner of the net but the away side equalized almost immediately. The Catalan fans were expecting a much different looking Barca side and a change in the way they played under the Dutch man but they left disappointed not just with the result but with an unexciting display.
All eyes were on the interim manager Sergi Barjuan who replaced Koeman on temporary basis while the search for a new coach is still on with Xavi being touted as the favorite to take over the ‘hot seat’. His lineup against Alaves was more or less like his predecessor the only difference was De Jong in midfield who was absent because of injury. Aside that there was no notable difference in the team’s setup and the way they played and that calls for concern with their next game being an away trip to Ukraine to play Dynamo Kiev which is a must win game for both teams if they want to progress to the next round of the Champions League.
The first half had the Catalans dominate possession as expected especially playing against lowly placed Alaves, but aside the possession there was no eye catching performance from the home side. The second half started in the same fashion not until Deepay’s wonder goal that gave Barca the lead. But that lead was short lived as the away side struck back four minutes later. Barca’s game was noting to write home about and their defense was threatened on many occasions and the result could have been embarrassing if the away team were more clinical in front of goal.
One would expect Barjuan to tweak his formation and try to make a difference with his lineup but that was not the case, he still had to play Sergino Dest at the right hand side of the attack who is a right full back by trade, when he has two different wingers on the bench. Barca’s performance on the night still looked disjointed with no cutting edge. The team is still struggling to create goal scoring chances and is still vulnerable in defense. For a coach that worked with the B Team, one would expect him to give the likes of Rique Puig, Balde and other young lads from La Masia more game time but he opted to stick to what Koeman did, that makes one wonder why Koeman was fired at the first place if there wouldn’t be a difference in playing style and formation.
Barcelona definitely has to get a new coach that will bring back the attacking play with players freely expressing themselves which was their trademark. The team also needs a coach that will make this team to start winning again. All these desired result might take time especially with the financial issue they are in and not being able to sign top players, but that can only be done with a coach with Barca’s DNA and winning mentality.