FC Barcelona endured a hard night at the San Mames but managed to secure a draw to continue their unbeaten start to the season. Here are some of the lessons we learned from the match.
1) Defense Repositioning
The injury to Gerard Pique is going to create a lot of concerns for Koeman at this moment, especially as Eric Garcia also got a red card in the same match and Oscar Mingueza is still out injured.
This leaves Ronald Araujo, Clement Lenglet and the embattled Samuel Umtiti as the only central defensive options around. Of the three, Umtiti’s contract situation means he is unlikely to get the nod over Araujo and Lenglet.
This is already a disaster for any coach, and Koeman must now steer the defensive line carefully or risk a major upheaval with limited resources, especially with the kind of howler Neto almost pulled off against Athletic Bilbao.
2) Score at Any Chance
The club’s 30+ goals a season goalscoring machine is no longer at the club and the last thing Barca needs at this moment is Braithwaite missing glorious opportunities like he did last night.
3) Koeman is Getting his Substitutions right
Once Martinez got the first goal of the game, the Catalans needed an equalizer very fast or else things could get funny on the pitch.
Pedri’s overworked body was evident on the night, and the ability of the coach to substitute him and introduce Sergi Roberto did influence the games rhythm and changed the midfield dynamics for Barca.
This also helped bring stability in the middle of the park and limit the offensive counters launched on several occasions by Athletic forwards.
4) Koeman needs to Make Plans for High Pressing Teams
The ease with which the Bilbao team were breezing past the midfield is worrying, even though Barca controlled majority of possessions on the night.
Access to the ball for teams with fast attack minded forwards should be stifled and snuffed out entirely. History has shown that FC Barcelona don’t do well under certain offensive pressure. This was evident in the first match against Real Soceidad, and it was also evident last night.
Let’s hope the team continues with it’s unbeaten run at the moment and improve on their goalscoring abilities.