Barcelona take pressure off Koeman with impressive Sevilla victory

Stefan Bienkowski
Stefan Bienkowski Updated: 17 May 2021 19:07 CEST 4 min read
Barcelona take pressure off Koeman with impressive Sevilla victory

Barcelona took some much-needed pressure off head coach Ronald Koeman on Saturday with an impressive 2-0 victory over Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium. 

Prior to Saturday’s clash, Sevilla had gone unbeaten in their last 12 games in La Liga and were in the midst of a seven-game winning streak that had taken them up to fourth in the Spanish top flight table. 

As such, there was a growing concern at Barcelona that a heavy defeat to in-form side could underline the issues the Catalan club have had this season under Koeman’s management. Indeed, the Dutch head coach admitted that quite openly ahead of the game. 

Being a Barcelona coach always generates a lot of pressure,” Koeman said on Friday ahead of the crunch league fixture against Sevilla.

“If you don’t win and you lose a lot, the culprit is the coach. I accept it, I accept it and I know how it works. I’ve been in this sport for many years and I try to do my best, I never think about losing, I always think about winning, I don’t know what will happen if we don’t win.”

However, rather than conform to popular opinion and allow Sevilla to provide further anguish to a troubled season, Koeman decided to get a little creative with his tactics and it seemed to work wonders. 

Tactical switch helps Koeman’s Barca beat Sevilla

With Gerard Pique now back and in full fitness, Koeman decided to switch to a back three with the senior Spanish defender alongside Clement Lenglet and Oscar Mingueza. This then allowed Barcelona to push Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest into wing-back roles and in return offer a more attacking formation to take on Sevilla. 

And it seemed to work wonders. After just 29 minutes, Lionel Messi picked out Ousmane Dembele to allow the French forward to smash an unstoppable low drive into the middle of the goal from the edge of the box. 

Despite disallowed goals for both sides in the second half, Messi once again made the difference when he got on the end of a rebound with just five minutes left on the clock to double Barcelona’s lead and confirm all three points. 

Not only did the result go some way to silencing some of Koeman’s critics, but it also put Barcelona top of La Liga’s form table and suggested that there was still some life left in this old and often criticised Barca side. 

Indeed, no team in La Liga has picked up more points than Barcelona in the last five, 10 or 15 match days combined. In that time Koeman’s side have won 39 points – four more than Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and seven more than Sevilla. 

While Zinedine Zidane’s side could still leapfrog Barca into second place with a win on Monday night and Atletico still have two games in hand, Koeman’s side only sit two points off first place in the Spanish title race. 

In years gone by, anything but first and by some distance would have been deemed an almighty failure for any Barca coach but considering the numerous issues the club have faced on and off the pitch throughout the current campaign, perhaps Koeman has earned a bit of respite from his critics for getting more points out of this troubled side than any other club in Spain for some time now.