Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has had to admit that opponents are more courageous against his team now that Barca can no longer rely on Lionel Messin superior skills. On Saturday, Barcelona missed a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao.
Athletic Bilbao was victorious Inigo Martinezin with butt paint, but Memphis Depayn the finish eventually brought Barca a draw. Koeman admitted that his team still feels strongly about the absence of the former record scorer and captain, two weeks after he left Barcelona to join the PSG.
“I wouldn’t want to talk about the same thing again, but we’re talking about the best player in the world, and opponents are always more scared if Messi is on the field,” Koeman told reporters.
Barcelona got strong with Athletic Bilbao, but eventually headed home with a point when Memphis Depay’s brilliant goal fifteen minutes before full time ensured a draw. It was Depay’s first goal in La Liga after he moved from Lyon to Barcelona.
Koeman’s team had strongly started the era without the Mass when it beat Real Sociedad by a goal of 4–2 the previous weekend. After the draw, it was impossible for Koeman to avoid questions about the impact of the absence of the Mess.
“If Mess gets the ball, he doesn’t usually lose it, and today we lost too many balls in the opening period. That’s the way it is, it can’t be changed now, ”Koeman said.
Saturday evening was particularly difficult for the Barcelona defense when Gerard Piquen had to come to the exchange after half an hour, and Eric Garcia was driven out with extra time.
Former Manchester City defender Garcia was informed of the death of his grandfather before the match and was in trouble throughout the match. Garcia allowed Inigo Martinez to push the home team into the lead early in the opening half.
“He’s a great professional when he was able to play so well after his grandfather’s death. We wish him all the best in a difficult situation, ”Koeman said, noting that the draw was the right result.
A hard-working player in Barcelona and perhaps the whole football world lately, Pedri is finally getting two weeks off after contracting last season, first at the European Championships and then at the Olympics.