Spanish press tear into Ronald Koeman for a ‘total DISASTER’ in 3-0 loss to Benfica… leaving the Dutchman ‘against the ropes’ with Champions League progression in serious doubt
Ronald Koeman has been pushed ‘against the ropes’ after Barcelona were ’embarrassed’ once again in the Champions League.
They were among the verdicts splashed across the front pages of Spain’s newspapers on Thursday after Benfica rolled the Catalan side over to inflict their second straight 3-0 group stage defeat this season.
Marca’s front page focused on a ‘total disaster’ for Barcelona in Lisbon that has placed Koeman’s future in charge ‘in more doubt than ever’.
Spain’s front pages described Barcelona’s latest Champions League loss as a ‘total disaster’
Mundo Deportivo feel that Koeman is now ‘against the ropes’ in a battle to keep his position
Mundo Deportivo, a predominantly Barcelona-centric paper, likened Koeman to a boxer ‘against the ropes’ and with a nightmare four games to come he is under ‘serious pressure’ from president Joan Laporta.
In the eyes of Mundo Deportivo he is not alone, either, with Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti also ‘under the microscope’ after they were stunned by Moldovan minnows Sherif Tiraspol.
Diario AS simply splashed the word ‘SUNK’ across their cover on a night of further embarrassment for the 2014-15 Champions League winners.
Barcelona have lost their first two group stage games since the Champions League started
Koeman reiterated after the match that he feels the support of players but accepted his position could be taken away from him.
Asked if he felt he had backing at Barcelona after the 3-0 loss to Benfica, Koeman said: ‘I feel the players are behind me.’ Asked if he felt the board backed him too, he said: ‘I don’t know.’
The club would have to pay around £10.4million (€12m) to get rid of him and because they are outside the limits of LaLiga’s financial fairplay they are subject to a special rule that means they can only bring in new players (or a new coach) for a quarter of the cost of those leaving.
There is leeway in the way these league rules are applied but it could mean that if Barcelona lost Koeman who earns around £6.9m (€8m) they would only be able to bring in a coach for around £1.7m (€2m).
Darwin Nunez, who scored a famous brace, converts his first of the night with a tidy finish
Barcelona find themselves in a perilous situation financially, illustrated by the £85million salary cap handed to them by LaLiga for 2021-22 in the hours before the loss to Benfica, and early exit from the Champions League would prove highly damaging.
Defeat in Lisbon meant they have lost their first two group games for the first time since the Champions League started.
Koeman’s side currently sit bottom of Group E with zero points and zero goals scored. Only Swedish side Malmo have a worse record after two games with seven conceded, compared to Barcelona’s six.
They face a must-win match at home to Dynamo Kiev in three games time but Spanish media are already increasingly pessimistic about securing a top two finish to progress.
Koeman admitted after the game it is ‘crystal clear’ his side are not like the Barca teams of old
‘This is not the team of years gone by. It’s crystal clear,’ added Koeman.
‘The result is hard to take. I don’t think it’s a fair reflection. After conceding so early we responded well but we couldn’t score.
‘They are very quick and strong. There are a lot teams stronger than us.’
Midfielder Sergio Busquets was asked by Movistar after the game whether this team needed a managerial change to kick-start their season.
He said: ‘The easiest thing in the world of football is (to change manager), but the responsibilities also belong to the players, ourselves. We are in a critical situation.
Team-mate Frenkie de Jong added: ‘Koeman’s future? I can’t say anything, it’s not about me. If it’s the problem? No. We’re trying everything, working hard, but the day hasn’t come out.’