After Saturday’s 2-0 loss to defending La Liga champions Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman slammed 19-year-old midfielder Nico Gonzalez. Nico was a surprise inclusion in Koeman’s starting XI, playing alongside 17-year-old Gavi, but the teenager was replaced by Sergi Roberto at half-time with the visitors already 2-0 down. According to Dermot Corrigan of The Athletic, the Dutchman spoke about Nico after the loss and blamed him for Atletico’s first goal, which was scored by Thomas Lemar after 23 minutes. “You can’t leave so much space when we lose the ball..”
“We had talked about it before, our midfielders needed to follow their men – and Nico let Lemar run for their first goal,” he explained. “That is why we have played with three centre-backs on occasion; we leave too much space and lack the pace in midfield to cover players like Llorente or Lemar.” ”
Nico’s sixth appearance for the Barcelona first team came on Saturday. Although the teenager is still technically a member of the reserve team, he has been called up to the senior squad on a regular basis due to injuries and some impressive performances.
In the second half, Koeman introduced Ansu Fati, Luuk de Jong, and Clement Lenglet, but his substitutions had little impact as the hosts ran out comfortable winners, handing Barca their first La Liga defeat of the 2021-22 season.
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Koeman Demands Three Wins For Barcelona
Barca’s defeat at Atletico leaves them in ninth place in La Liga, albeit with a game in hand, and Koeman admitting his team needs to get back to winning ways in the Spanish top flight quickly.
Due to the international break, Barcelona will not play again until October 17, when Valencia comes to the Camp Nou. Following that are Champions League matches against Dynamo Kiev and Real Madrid, with Koeman aware that there is little room for error, according to Eurosport.
“I spoke with the president yesterday, and I spoke with him again this morning. We’ve been talking about the team, the coaching staff, and the club. Things are starting to make sense now. “The message will help to de-escalate the situation,” he said. “Laporta called me last night, and we talked for a while… At the very least, there is clarity in this area. We have three games after the break that we must win. If we don’t have everything straight, Laporta’s help is crucial; otherwise, it’s difficult to maintain a calm mind and the patience to work. It’s the best for everyone, but we must now demand results, just like any coach. ”
Koeman was under fire ahead of the game after a poor start to the season, but president Joan Laporta told reporters in the build-up that the Dutch coach would stay at the Camp Nou and be given more time to turn the team’s fortunes around.
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