Soccer

Ronald Koeman admits winning La Liga is beyond Barcelona this season

‘If I’m realistic, the title is very complicated’: Ronald Koeman admits winning La Liga is beyond Barcelona this season after draw with Eibar leaves them seven points adrift  

  • Ronald Koeman believes Barcelona’s title chances this season are very slim
  • They are now seven points adrift of Atletico Madrid who have two games in hand
  • Lionel Messi watched on from the sidelines as Barcelona drew 1-1 with Eibar 

Ronald Koeman conceded the title appears to be beyond Barcelona this season after they were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Eibar at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night.

Barca needed an equaliser from substitute Ousmane Dembele after Kike Garcia embarrassed Ronald Araujo to break away and score just before the hour mark.

The result leaves Barca sixth in LaLiga, seven points behind an Atletico Madrid side who have two games in hand on them.

Ronald Koeman admits winning La Liga will be difficult this year after a draw against Eibar

Lionel Messi watched on from the side lines as Barcelona almost fell to lowly Eibar on Tuesday

Koeman always knew he faced something of a rebuilding job at the club this season, but admitted after the game his side were not up to speed.

‘If I’m realistic, the title is very complicated,’ he said. ‘Nothing is impossible, but you have to recognise the distance.

‘Atletico seem to me to be very good, very strong. They don’t concede many goals.’

Martin Braithwaite missed an early penalty as Barcelona passed up a string of opportunities in the match.

Barcelona are now seven points adrift of Atletico Madrid, who have two games in hand still

‘We deserved to win,’ Koeman added. ‘We did what we had to do. They only shot on goal once. We created chances, but we didn’t score the penalty and then made a mistake in defence.

‘We did enough to win. This is happening many times.’

Lionel Messi, the subject of increasing transfer speculation as his contract ticks down, was watching from the sidelines as he nurses an ankle injury, while the absence of other key players also told for a youthful Barca side.

‘I don’t want to say we lacked experience,’ Koeman added. ‘There is a transition in the team. There are also injuries. We play with young players – today we had five or six – but we also had experience.

‘We lacked Leo, who makes a difference. But the feeling is still, how did we not win?

Atletico Madrid look strong contenders, having only conceded five goals in 13 matches

‘We created many opportunities, missed a penalty, and gave away a goal.’

Koeman granted Messi an extended break over Christmas to help rehabilitate his ankle, with the forward having just returned to Barcelona from Argentina.

With the forward soon able to talk to other clubs as he moves into the final months of his contract, Messi’s future could come to dominate the conversation around Barcelona in the coming weeks.

‘It cannot be said that Barca play better without Messi,’ Koeman said. ‘He is on another level. In general we played a good game, but individual mistakes have cost us points.’ 




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