Barcelona came into the game against newly-promoted Cadiz in good form. Ronald Koeman seemed to have found the right balance in his team with rotations and his line-ups. The manager selected a strong starting 11, but they were stunned by a competitive home side who earned their win.
Lionel Messi tried to create and score for his team but was unlucky on several occasions. The finishing was questionable from the squad, but Cadiz goalkeeper Ledesma should be recognised for his performance. For all the possession and chances Barcelona had, it was an own goal that saw them level the score.
The Catalan side, not for the first time this season, were too fragile at the back. This has been a glaring problem for some time now and the defence completely crumbled in the second half. Strange substitutions from the manager left the team with no structure again. When Barcelona have been behind this season, there has been a lack of a game plan to fix the situation.
It leaves the Spanish giants in a worrying position in La Liga, sitting in 7th place but only three points above the relegation zone. Before the match, Koeman stressed how important it was for the club to win their remaining games of the year. With this latest loss, La Liga looks to be running away from Barça as they are already 12 points behind Atlético Madrid, who have only conceded two goals in the league this season.
1. The players must take responsibility too
It is easy to criticise the manager in situations like these. Culés have questioned Ronald Koeman’s line-ups and substitutions all season. Still, the players cannot just hide behind this. Looking at the statistics alone, Barcelona dominated, which suggests the team that was selected was strong enough to win. However, football is not just statistics, and Cadiz earned their luck. They took the few chances they had and gave everything to stop their opponents from scoring.
The Blaugrana players have to look at themselves after this defeat. There was a number of unacceptable performances from experienced players and criminal mistakes. Poor finishing, defensive errors and woeful passes are some of the aspects that the manger cannot control and it is down to the players.
The problems extend beyond the control of Ronald Koeman. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)
“We win together, we lose together.”Ronald Koeman | Post-game Presser
Lionel Messi was relied upon to save his team again. The Argentine worked hard and was unfortunate not to score, but there was a lack of responsibility being taken by others to seize the game. Over the last couple of seasons, there has only been a handful of occasions that a player not named Messi has won Barcelona the game. Now 33, Barça’s captain cannot always be looked at to rescue his team from difficult situations.
2. League out of sight
Barcelona have cruised through their UEFA Champions League group, winning all of their games so far. Ronald Koeman has used his full squad in this competition and given fringe players minutes here. However, in the league, the Dutchman seems to prefer the same regulars, and this is where the Catalan side are struggling the most.
The form in Europe has sometimes masked the problems that the Blaugrana are having domestically. La Liga is particularly tight this season and Barça have already suffered some difficult defeats. This should not be ignored anymore, and the manager should consider giving others a chance in La Liga.
Puig can solve a lot of mess for Barcelona. (Photo via Imago)
Players such as Carles Aleñá and Riqui Puig have impressed in the Champions League, but have rarely seen any game time in the league. Furthermore, some players are playing far below their best, but still, continue to feature regularly. This has been the case for several seasons now, and some of the veterans are becoming too comfortable.
Barcelona have also shown signs of mental weakness that has haunted them in recent seasons. Against Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Sevilla, Getafe and Cadiz, the Blaugrana have let their heads drop. These have been the most challenging games of the season and each time the Catalans have failed. Though they have a perfect record in Europe, in the knockout rounds this mental weakness will cost them if it continues.
3. Defensive collaspe
Against Cadiz, Barcelona had one of their worst defensive performances of the season. Both goals that they conceded were easily preventable. The second goal was especially shocking and came from mistakes from Clément Lenglet and Marc-André ter Stegen. These two experienced players should know better than to give away a cheap goal like they did when the match was so precarious.
Amateur defending from some of the best players in the world. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)
“There is a lack of concentration, we can’t concede a second goal like that. We have to analyse how we lost today. We have to improve. We’ve lacked aggression without the ball.”Ronald Koeman
It was not just the mistakes that made the defending so poor, but the organisation. Each time Barcelona have been behind this season, the defence has been forgotten about as Ronald Koeman throws on too many attackers. Frenkie de Jong and Lenglet had no co-ordination and Sergiño Dest, Barça’s best defender on the night, was replaced by Francisco Trincão.
The game management from the Dutch manager needs to improve and he needs to trust the system. Barcelona were dominating the match and were threatening the opposition goal. Overcrowding the attack has proven not to work already this season and leaves the defence in disarray.