Desperate Koeman on the brink as Araujo saves Barca’s blushes
Ronald Koeman’s job at Barcelona may just have been saved by Ronald Araujo, whose late equaliser spared his side’s blushes at Camp Nou in a 1-1 draw against Granada.
It was, however, another lamentable showing from Barca.
After going down 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week, the Dutchman would have expected a reaction against opponents who might have impressed last season but who came into this game without a win this time around.
Granada came within a minute of changing that statistic.
Indeed, the only reaction that Barca got initially was a negative one. Granada led within two minutes through Domingos Duarte.
Thereafter, the Catalans had all the ball but toiled going forward.
Koeman's anti-Barca strike again
When once they might have expected Lionel Messi to save them, they now only had the ineffectual Luuk de Jong. His most pertinent contribution to the action on Monday was to miss from close range with just 10 minutes remaining.
A favourite of Koeman, whose nerves were clearly shredding as he was booked for remonstrating with the officials in the closing stages, it would have been emblematic of Barcelona’s fall if this had been the blow that ultimately cost his coach the job.
Instead, there was a late reprieve. Gavi, who had replaced Philippe Coutinho in a planned change after an hour, proved the architect of the leveller, with Araujo, booked a couple of minutes earlier for a desperate dive in the box, the scorer.
Gerard Pique being thrown into attack as a makeshift No.9 to play alongside De Jong was another telling indication of how wretched Barcelona were. This was not some last-ditch Hail Mary tactic; crossing balls towards the giant pair was the entire plan in the last 15 minutes.
It was a world away from Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Koeman, criticised for his lack of style even before the ugly draw, was given three matches to save his job following the Bayern debacle, which president Joan Laporta admitted was a predictable event.
What Laporta and Barca will not accept, beyond the coach’s anti-Barcelona style of play, are results such as this: a home draw with a struggling outfit.
Koeman may still be in charge for Thursday’s trip to Cadiz, but should Barcelona falter on that occasion, there could well be a new face in the dugout by the time the Blaugrana are back at Camp Nou to tackle Levante on Sunday.