Barcelona in disarray: Will Koeman stay on?

The pressure continues to mount on Ronald Koeman after his Barcelona side lost the first Clasico of the season against Real Madrid at the Nou Camp on Sunday.

Barcelona are now ninth in La Liga and Koeman is the first manager to lose three Clasico games in a row in over 85 years. Koeman has come under scrutiny in the wake of the team’s mediocre results, leading to speculation over his future at the club.

The Dutchman came out in the press following the loss to claim his side are improving despite the result, but La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter told Sky Sports: “With respect to Koeman, I do believe he was just saving face because he almost has to.

“Barcelona were inferior and Real Madrid were a cut above them. There’s no denying that. Koeman tried to put a stop to Madrid from the outset, putting Sergino Dest out wide as a winger, doubling up with Oscar Mingueza – who’s actually a central defender playing out wide as the right full-back.

Ronald Koeman is under increasing pressure
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Ronald Koeman is under increasing pressure

“The idea was to stop the pace and skill of Vinicius Junior coming down the left but 60 per cent of Real Madrid’s attacks came down this side.

“Barcelona started quite well and were pressing exceptionally high and just about every single one of their players was inside the opposition half but the problem was it left them dangerously exposed at the back.

Real Madrid won a fourth straight Clasico
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Real Madrid won a fourth straight Clasico

“Real Madrid are a classic counter-attacking side and both of their goals came from quick transitions, exploiting all of the space they had behind the Barcelona defence.

“It’s worse that five of the goals Madrid have scored in the last three Clasicos have been scored in this exact same manner. Koeman hasn’t done enough to try to correct this. This is Madrid forte, their calling card, and Koeman has shown he hasn’t found the answers.

“Barcelona had made it too easy for Real in the first half so he dropped Mingueza at half-time and put Dest back to right-back. Philippe Coutinho was brought on in an attempt for more creativity but overall it was to little or no effect.”

Madrid celebrated their fourth win in a row in El Clasico, something which has not happened since 1965, but will Barcelona stick by Koeman for the time being?

“At the end of the day, a lot of the fans are upset and have been for quite some time,” Hunter continued. “This has been going on since pretty much the start of the season.

“Some people still feel he should have left in the summer, but the club haven’t been able to find a replacement. It comes down to that, but they have a lot of thinking to do right now.

Barcelona currently sit ninth in La Liga
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Barcelona currently sit ninth in La Liga

“The club may have to see if they can come up with the money to pay off the severance package which could end up being in the ballpark of €18m (around £15m) to let go of Koeman.

“They would also need to try to find someone to replace him and up until this point, there is no one that’s been lined up next.

“Xavi Hernandez, a club legend, has expressed in public that he would one day like to manage Barcelona and that he’s willing and ready to come home as soon as he gets the call.

“He’d be happy to come back and take the job, but as of yet nothing has been said regarding any contact. For now, Koeman keeps his job but it’ll be interesting to see how they now react.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen reacts to conceding on Sunday
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Marc-Andre ter Stegen reacts to conceding on Sunday

“If Barcelona want to compete with the elite, then they perhaps do need to bring somebody else in. In 10 games against some of the biggest clubs around – Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich for example in the Champions League – they’ve only won one with Koeman in charge.

“There’s a big gap behind some of those leading clubs that needs to be closed. The games have shown that Koeman maybe isn’t the right man for the job. It might just be that he’s the right man but just not at the right time.”

The club condemned the scenes outside the Nou Camp with supporters surrounding Koeman’s car and others seen previously jumping on the bonnet.

“I was surprised,” Hunter added. “I understand that fans are frustrated, they’re angry, they’re upset at seeing a team that is incapable of competing.

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La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter was disgusted to see Barcelona fans swarm round Ronald Koeman’s car following the loss to Real Madrid – but she agrees the head coach’s poor record in big matches is becoming an issue.

“Barcelona are ninth in the table and the fans feel it is a club in complete disarray. I get that, but it doesn’t give fans the right or justify any kind of behaviour such as this.

“They attacked Ronald Koeman as he was coming out of the Camp Nou, as he was trying to drive away. It made my stomach churn seeing that. This is not a fair reflection of the Barcelona fan base.

“It really is just a small minority that are making the fans look quite bad. Take a look at how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was treated last night.

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Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman’s car was mobbed by supporters after Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in El Clasico at the Nou Camp.

“There were images on social media of him signing autographs in the car park. He took the time to speak with them and it was very calm and respectful.

“For Koeman, it was the complete opposite behaviour so I think you just have to show him a little bit more respect. He’s a club legend – whether you think he’s doing a good or bad job as the manager, no one should be treated like that. It was completely unacceptable.

“It’s a good thing that Barcelona have condemned it, they will look into security measures and disciplinary action to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Koeman: I think we’re improving

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman:

“I think the team did all they could to level up the match but we didn’t have much time after going 2-1 down. We’re disappointed with the result but not for what we did as a team.

“In today’s match, we showed that we are not inferior to Madrid, but instead of being 1-0 up, we went 1-0 down and this had a huge impact on the match.

“But I think we showed that little by little we are improving and that we are closer to winning a big match and that’s how it is.

“Normally in a Clasico, it means something more [than just losing three points] if you are Barcelona. I get this perfectly. But there’s no time to cry about it because on Wednesday we have another match.”

What’s next?

Both sides are next in action in La Liga on Wednesday, with Barcelona travelling to Rayo Vallecano (6pm), while Real host Osasuna (8.30pm).

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CL round-up: Bayern strike late to thrash Benfica

Bayern Munich hit Benfica with four late goals to seal an emphatic win in
Portugal.

Leroy Sane broke the deadlock after 70 minutes before an Everton Soares own goal and strikes from Robert Lewandowski and Sane once more saw the German club surge away at the top of Group E.

Meanwhile, Barcelona gained their first win in the competition this season after Gerard Pique netted in a 1-0 victory against Dynamo Kiev at the Nou Camp.

Group F: Villarreal ease past young Boys

Villarreal eased to victory in Austria
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Villarreal eased to victory in Austria

Villarreal eased to a 4-1 win at Young Boys.

Yeremi Pino and Gerard Moreno gave the visitors a comfortable half-time lead which they held until the 77th minute when Meschack Elia pulled a goal back.

A tense finish was threatened but it did not materialise for the Spanish side, who restored their two-goal cushion with further goals from substitutes Alberto Moreno and Samuel Chukwueze late on.

The other game in the group saw Cristiano Ronaldo secured Manchester United a thrilling 3-2 victory in a breathless Champions League clash with Atalanta.

The victory provided a much-needed shot in the arm for United, who moved top of Group F and welcome rivals Liverpool to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

Group G: Salzburg pull clear at top

Rasmus Kristensen of RB Salzburg celebrates after winning against Wolfsburg
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Rasmus Kristensen of RB Salzburg celebrates after winning against Wolfsburg

Red Bull Salzburg pulled clear at the top of Group G with a 3-1 home win against Wolfsburg. Lukas Nmecha cancelled out Karim Adeyemi’s opener for the hosts before a second-half double from Noah Okafor gave Red Bull their second group win.

Sevilla are second behind the Austrian champions after drawing 0-0 with Lille in France.

Group H: Juve stay top

Juventus stayed top of Group H
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Juventus stayed top of Group H

Juventus stayed top of Group H after Dejan Kulusevski’s 86th-minute header gave them a 1-0 win against Zenit St Petersburg in Russia.

Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner limped out of Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Malmo to deal the Blues a fresh set of injury concerns.

Jorginho converted two penalties, while Andreas Christensen and Kai Havertz laid on classy finishes – but Chelsea’s new injuries still grabbed the greatest attention.

Lukaku hobbled off in clear pain with a suspected ankle problem, while Werner appeared to pick up a hamstring issue as the Blues claimed their second win in Group H.

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Fati agrees new long-term Barca deal

Ansu Fati has agreed a new six-year deal at Barcelona and becomes the second player from the club to have his buy-out clause set at 1billion euros.

The Bissau-born teenager had been linked with a move elsewhere but has committed his future to the financially-stricken Catalan giants.

Fati’s new contract will officially be signed on Thursday and will see him follow in the footsteps of team-mate Pedri, who last week agreed new terms which also included an £842m release clause.

In 47 appearances for Barca, Fati has scored 15 goals and is the second youngest player to debut for the club after he made his first appearance aged 16 and 298 days.

The 18-year-old has racked up numerous records during the past three seasons, becoming Barcelona’s youngest La Liga goalscorer, the youngest player to score and assist in a La Liga match and the club’s youngest player in the Champions League.

Despite suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee in November, Fati returned after 10 months on the sidelines to help lift some of the gloom at the Nou Camp with two goals in five appearances this season.

A product of Barca’s La Masia academy, he took on the number 10 shirt after Lionel Messi left to sign for Paris St Germain in the summer.

The news was announced soon after Fati had appeared as a half-time substitute in Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Wednesday.

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Euro: Bayern smash five past Leverkusen, Juve beat Roma

Bayern Munich thrashed Bayer Leverkusen 5-1 on Sunday as Julian Nagelsmann’s side ran riot and silenced a stunned BayArena, scoring five goals by half-time to reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga from Borussia Dortmund.

Two each from Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry moved Bayern up to 19 points, one point ahead of Dortmund while Leverkusen remain third with 16.

Bayern took the lead with just three minutes on the clock from a set-piece when an unmarked Dayot Upamecano crossed the ball into the six-yard box where Lewandowski scored with a neat back-heeled flick.

Lewandowski made it 2-0 at the half-hour mark when a Bayern counter-attack allowed left-back Alphonso Davies to dribble his way into the box towards the Polish striker, who simply stuck a leg out to tap the ball into the net.

Bayern then scored three goals in three minutes with Thomas Mueller scoring from point-blank range before Gnabry scored twice, benefiting from a Mueller assist and then a lay-off from Leon Goretzka as Leverkusen failed to deal with the press.

Serge Gnabry completed Bayern's scoring with their fifth after just 37 minutes
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Serge Gnabry completed Bayern’s scoring with their fifth after just 37 minutes

Manuel Neuer kept Leverkusen at bay with some fine saves but he was finally beaten 10 minutes after the restart when Patrik Schick was released down the right channel by Florian Wirtz and the Czech forward fired a shot that went in off the post.

Leverkusen substitute Lucas Alario had the ball in the net in the dying stages but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Also on Sunday, Augsburg drew 1-1 with Arminia Bielefeld, thwarting both teams’ hopes of putting some distance between themselves and the relegation zone.

Augsburg took the lead when Reece Oxford headed home from a corner, scoring his first Bundesliga goal after five seasons and 58 games in the league.

Bielefeld did not have a shot on target until Jacob Laursen volleyed in the equaliser in the 77th minute. Augsburg are in 16th place and Bielefeld sit 17th in the 18-team German top flight.

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A selection of the best goals from match week eight in the Bundesliga, including strikes from Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and Marco Reus

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Watch a selection of the best saves from matchweek eight in the Bundesliga, including stops from Manuel Neuer, Timo Horn and Peter Gulacsi

Serie A – Juventus see off Roma

Moise Kean's early goal won the game for Juventus
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Moise Kean’s early goal won the game for Juventus

Juventus continued their march up the Serie A standings with a 1-0 win over Roma, as Moise Kean’s unorthodox early goal sealed a fourth consecutive league win for the Turin club.

Rodrigo Bentancur’s header ricocheted off Kean’s head and into the back of the net after 16 minutes.

But Jose Mourinho’s side were furious when Tammy Abraham put the ball in the net but the goal was not allowed to stand because referee Daniele Orsato had already whistled for a penalty. Jordan Veretout took it and his effort was saved by Wojciech Szczesny.

Juve are seventh with 14 points, level with Lazio and Atalanta above them, and one point behind fourth-placed Roma.

Tammy Abraham had a goal ruled out for Roma
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Tammy Abraham had a goal ruled out for Roma

Earlier in the day, Victor Osimhen scored a towering header nine minutes from time as Napoli extended their perfect start to Serie A with a 1-0 win over Torino.

After Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne had seen his weak first-half penalty saved and Giovanni Di Lorenzo had a goal ruled out by VAR for offside, Osimhen came to the rescue for Napoli. The striker finished off an assault on Torino’s goal following efforts from Dries Mertens and a deflection that set up Osimhen’s header.

Josip Ilicic netted twice and Duvn Zapata became the first Colombian player to score 100 goals in Serie A as Atalanta won 4-1 at Empoli.

Also, Sassuolo forward Gianluca Scamacca scored twice against his former team in a 2-2 draw at Genoa, 10-man Udinese came back for a 1-1 draw with Bologna and Cagliari finally earned their first win of the season by beating Sampdoria 3-1.

La Liga – Fati stars in Barcelona win

Ansu Fati made a return to action for Barcelona
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Ansu Fati made a return to action for Barcelona

Ansu Fati marked his first start in almost a year by scoring one goal and creating another as Barcelona came from behind to beat Valencia 3-1.

Despite being allowed a full capacity crowd for the first time since March 2020, Barca’s ground was only half full – and those in attendance were silenced after five minutes as Jose Gaya’s long-range strike swerved into the far corner.

Barca responded well and Fati levelled after 13 minutes with a wonderful curled finished from the edge of the box.

The youngster was then felled inside the area by Gaya four minutes before the break and Memphis Depay stepped up to net from the penalty spot.

Memphis Depay scored from the penalty spot during Barcelona's win
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Memphis Depay scored from the penalty spot during Barcelona’s win

Carlos Soller hit the woodwork after the break as Valencia pushed for an equaliser, but Barcelona were able to secure all three points when substitute Philippe Coutinho fired in from close range five minutes from the end.

The victory moved Ronald Koeman’s side up to seventh in the table on 15 points, five behind league leaders Real Sociedad, having played a game fewer.

Rafa Mir’s second-half strike secured a 1-0 win for Sevilla at Celta Vigo, while Rayo Vallecano saw off Elche 2-1.

Ezequiel Avila scored with four minutes left as Osasuna won 2-1 at Villarreal.

Ligue 1 – Lens lose ground on PSG

Stephy Mavididi scored the winning goal for Montpellier against Lens
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Stephy Mavididi scored the winning goal for Montpellier against Lens

Second-placed Lens lost ground with Ligue 1 leaders PSG when they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Montpellier.

Montpellier were rewarded for their domination three minutes into the second half when Stephy Mavididi beat Jean-Louis Leca with a low shot after being played through by Teji Savanier.

Lens had some hope when Jordan Ferri was sent off in the 86th minute for picking up a second yellow card for pulling Seko Fofana’s shirt, but their efforts were in vain.

Lens now have 18 points, trailing PSG by nine points. They are now in danger of being overtaken by Marseille, who moved to within one point after Matteo Guendouzi’s double inspired them to a 4-1 comeback win against Lorient.

At the Stade Velodrome, Guendouzi added to goals by Boubacar Kamara and Arkadiusz Milik after an early penalty by Armand Lauriente had put Lorient ahead.

But Marseille’s pressure was too intense for Lorient with Guendouzi, who now has scored three goals and set up two in nine appearances this season, playing chief tormentor.

Third-placed Marseille have a game in hand to play against Nice, who are fourth on 16 points after losing 1-0 at Troyes. Defender Giulian Biancone set up Troyes’ Mama Balde in the fourth minute for the winning goal.

Gaetan Laborde continued his fine scoring form with his league-leading seventh goal as improving Rennes won 3-0 at lowly Metz.

After starring in a well-deserved home win against PSG two weeks ago, Laborde netted midway through the first half before 19-year-old Ghana winger Kamaldeen Sulemana added a superb solo goal. Martin Terrier completed the scoring just before the break.

Saint-Etienne coach Claude Puel is under increasing pressure to keep his job after his side lost 5-1 at Strasbourg. His side sit bottom and are the only side yet to win apart from 19th-place Brest, who drew 1-1 at home to Reims. South Korea striker Hwang Ui-jo also scored for strugglers Bordeaux in a 1-1 home draw with mid-table Nantes.

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Pedri agrees new Barca deal with 1bn euro release clause

Barcelona teenager Pedri has agreed a long-term contract extension with the financially stricken club.

The 18-year-old Spain international, who was named in the Euro 2020 team of the tournament, will remain at the Nou Camp until 2026.

His new contract includes a €1bn release clause and will be officially signed on Friday.

Pedri, who had been linked with Liverpool, joined Barcelona from Las Palmas in August 2020 and quickly established himself as a starter in midfield.

He played 53 times last season – the most appearances of anyone at the club.

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Former Barcelona midfielder Gaizka Mendieta says the team, manager Ronald Koeman and board must work together to shift the negative momentum at the club

His new deal is a rare piece of good news as Barcelona continue to struggle on and off the pitch. They sit ninth in La Liga and have lost their opening two Champions League games.

Lionel Messi was forced to leave the club during the summer as they were unable to afford his new contract, while experienced players such as Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba agreed to salary reductions to allow Ronald Koeman’s side to register their new signings.

President Joan Laporta laid bare their financial issues back in August, saying: “Barcelona has a negative net worth of €451m – it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying.

“The situation is dramatic, but we have good news. The strategic plan based on our credibility and experience, on the assets that Barca have, makes this situation temporary.

“I think that in a couple of years, the club’s economy will be healthy.”

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