The Ronald Koeman era starts today with a friendly clash against Nàstic. There is no real pre-season for the 2020/21 LaLiga campaign which, coincidently, also begins this Saturday so this will have to do.
All the papers are mostly focused on the grand opening later on but in Catalonia, the friendly takes the focus. SPORT are saying ‘Underway‘, hinting that Barcelona will take their first step under the new coach today.
The outlet is also suggesting that the Dutchman will use a mixed team consisting of different players in each half. That way, everyone will get to play and warm up for the long season ahead.
SPORT also quoted Koeman saying: ‘They’ll play as they train and I’m very pleased with the level they’ve shown these first two weeks‘. Hopefully, we can see some improvement on the pitch right from the bat.
Mundo Deportivo are still focusing on Lionel Messi. Of course, the Koeman era starts today but the important thing is that it starts with the Argentine in the team.
The new coach believes Leo will be a crucial piece of his jigsaw and the very hub of the new project. Him staying is a huge boost in both morale and on the pitch as well.
Koeman is also very satisfied with the level his squad is showing. Mundo Deportivo quote him praising the way they train and play. Let’s see if that translates onto the pitch once the real business starts.
Of course, unfortunately, it will be without the young Ansu Fati. Barcelona’s gem is injured and we’re still waiting to see how long he’ll be out. With the Catalans’ struggles to acquire a new forward, Ansu might play an even bigger role than expected.
Koeman only has two options for the centre-back position against Juventus
After losing against Real Madrid, Ronald Koeman has yet another tough fixture to his rough start in Catalunya. In the second Champions League game of his tenure, Koeman faces Juventus in what seems like a battle of two struggling coaches. On the one hand, Andrea Pirlo is winless in his last three league games as Koeman is.
Moreover, Pirlo is missing three centre-backs, with Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt out for the Wednesday clash. Still, Koeman isn’t any luckier since Gerard Piqué is out because of the red card he got against Ferencvaros. Without the “President” in defence, the Dutchman will have to compose with Ronald Araujo and Clément Lenglet. The pair are two brilliant centre-backs who haven’t played alongside each other much, however.
This fixture is the hardest in the group for the Catalans as they face the toughest opponent away from home, a recurrent problem for the Culés in European competitions. Also, if something happens to Araujo or Lenglet, the backup defender is Oscar Mingueza. The youngster was included along with four other Barça B players in the UCL squad. This test will be interesting to see, and Koeman has to win his first big game with Barcelona.