Self-conscious and mutilated, not to say self-injured, Barça enlarges any rival, small or medium, also the serious Benfica. The Portuguese were able to start with dominating the areas and correcting themselves positionally at halftime in the face of Koeman’s inability to thrash a rival denied and condemned for their own concessions, on the bench and also on the field, surpassed in each game of the Champions.
The tournament has become a torture for Barça. It does not matter the opposite or the scenario because the Barça fans win at home and abroad, victims of individual errors and lack of a football plan, reduced one more night at the da Luz stadium, the scene of that 2-8 that is not erased from the memory of Barça.
The fall was so tremendous that it will be difficult for the coach to continue on the bench, erratic in the choice of the system, the players, the positions and the changes, always surpassed by Jorge Jesus. The Koeman effect ended the Ansu Fati impact and the Catalans are on the verge of elimination after conceding six goals in two games in the European Cup. The blushing markers follow one another without stopping in the Barcelona account.
Perhaps because he was returning to the bench after his suspension in LaLiga, Koeman also retraced his steps, as if the game against Levante had not been played, stubborn with an ideology that contrasts with the idealism that Laporta leads. There is no day after for a coach who insisted with a game plan and some players who evoked the win against Bayern – the only change was that of Dest for Alba. He also repeated the result: 3-0. The youngsters who cheered the Camp Nou on Sunday, the cerebral Nico and the unruly Gavi and the hard-working Mingueza fell out of the lineup to form the already known and well-known Sergi Roberto, Frenkie de Jong and Pedri.
The coach loves the flexibility of 3-5-2 because it allows him to protect his team in exchange for exposing himself on risky dates like the one in Lisbon. Koeman no longer surprises his rivals if you listen to Jorge Jesus’ response. The Portuguese took a step forward with dribbler Rafa Silva and a second striker – Yaremchuk joined Darwin Núñez – after the Dutchman fell back with three centrals: Araujo, Piqué and Eric. Not by bringing together more defenders does he defend better when there is no solidity or consistency and the transitions of Benfica’s attackers sanctioned Barcelona’s turnovers.
Pedri was wrong after two minutes and Darwin Núñez eliminated Sergi Roberto with a run into space, broke Eric with a dry cut, displaced to the right as the Barcelona player was, and finished off Ter Stegen’s right post. Benfica’s effectiveness contrasted with Luuk de Jong’s missed goal. The Catalans pressed and attacked better, very well guided by an expansive Frenkie de Jong, and in return they found it difficult to contain the Portuguese cons and Rafa Silva’s game between the lines. Benfica, on the other hand, defended just as badly as Barça. The difference is that Memphis and De Jong did not hit an advantage against Vlachodimos.
The rhythm of the match and the demands of the individual marks by the Catalans, central against striker, surpassed Piqué. Already cautioned, the defender played the expulsion in a hard play that the referee ignored and Koeman changed him for Gavi. The Barcelona players were gaining daring and losing influence in the game because Frenkie de Jong joined Araujo and Eric behind. The change stopped Barça. The team lost the thread of passing and dynamics, recoiled too much and allowed Benfica to stabilize in their field for the luck of Vlachodimos.
The hand of Jorge Jesus
Jorge Jesus also corrected the movements of his players in the locker room and Benfica ate Barça without Koeman knowing. Even Ter Stegen was unhinged in an untimely exit that ended with a shot at Darwin’s post. The Catalans split in half, their midline overflowing, and were left out of the game, without arrival or conviction, delivered to a martyrdom from which Ansu did not even escape.
The forward’s departure coincided with Rafa Silva’s goal. There would still be a third penalty from Darwin Núñez at the hands of Dest and the expulsion of Eric to aggravate the pain of Barça who did not shoot once between the three sticks of Benfica’s goal. Koeman had long since surrendered to his luck, consumed by the game, overwhelmed by circumstances, belittled by the board and abandoned by his team after serving a bankrupt club like Barça.