Barcelona‘s 3-1 home defeat to Real Madrid forward of a testing journey to Juventus within the Champions League on Wednesday was a nasty little jolt to Ronald Koeman’s beforehand strong sheen as the brand new supervisor at Camp Nou. The Dutchman’s exuberant roll of the cube to start out 17-year-old Pedri in opposition to La Liga’s champions did not work — the truth is, it flopped.
Honest play to Koeman although: if you roll the cube you possibly can both win large or look daft. His different experiment with shifting Philippe Coutinho out of the No. 10 place left the beforehand exuberant Brazilian trotting round to little impact when his group have been on the offensive and making desultory efforts to get close to his opponents when he was presupposed to be monitoring again, tackling or urgent. It was an especially unhealthy day on the workplace, adopted by a muscle harm that can now preserve Coutinho out for a few weeks.
Worst of all for Koeman, whose brief reign had not solely launched a Pax Romana amid the strife, empire-destruction and blame-casting throughout him at Camp Nou however had begun to spark Barca into enjoying with verve and sparkle once more, he fully fluffed his strains when it got here to creating the much-needed substitutions. It was not merely ‘too little too late,’ however his full failure to recognise Pedri and Coutinho’s discordant performances, when it was obviously apparent at half-time, was like listening to a person in boxing gloves enjoying a Mozart piano concerto. Fascinating … however horrifying.
However, hostile outcomes — even a 3-1 Clasico defeat that rubs salt within the wounds of 1 level taken from the earlier six, in opposition to Getafe and Sevilla — plus only one purpose scored within the final 260 Liga minutes, are ephemeral. Until issues proceed to spiral downwards, the sting can evaporate, classes may be assimilated and the humiliation used as a thorn within the facet to spur on a proud squad which is within the tough strategy of re-construction.
And there was a short-term credibility increase for Koeman — make no mistake about it. After only one 12 months as a fully-fledged senior skilled with Ajax, 19-year-old United States full-back Sergino Dest, the primary American to ever play within the Clasico, was exceptionally spectacular. In case you began an inventory of the most effective gamers to emerge from that fantastically watchable and quality-packed Clasico, then Dest can be the primary Barcelona participant named, no query. That is neither hype nor overexcitement.
At Dest’s age, establishing your self in a squad looking for its id throughout a tempestuous interval — which may but finish with Koeman being eliminated subsequent Could if Victor Font wins the upcoming presidential elections and membership legend Xavi is prepared to take over — is hard and kind dips should be anticipated. Maybe we cannot constantly see the very best of this fleet-footed, extremely aggressive, attack-minded defender for a few seasons, when he’ll be the grand previous age of 21.
However what Dest confirmed in opposition to Actual Madrid, who continued to flood 5 or 6 males ahead even at 2-1 and 3-1 up, as Barcelona’s midfielders gave up the chase, was sufficient to seize our consideration. The American ended up because the third centre-back (with Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet) in a 3-4-1-2 formation for the final 10 minutes and regarded born to the function.
His plentiful highlights in opposition to Madrid actually helped Koeman’s credibility. Barcelona, by way of their now departed head of soccer, Eric Abidal, had a earlier association with Norwich to signal right-back Max Aarons and add him to the growing queue of ‘so that you need me to interchange Dani Alves?’ aspirants.
Aarons was understandably eager, his agent was doing shuttle-runs between the 2 golf equipment and the principle debate was about whether or not the deal would turn out to be everlasting instantly, be a mortgage ‘on approval’ scheme, or a mortgage cope with a assured buy worth written in. Then alongside got here Koeman. The Dutchman insisted that as quickly as Nelson Semedo‘s €30m transfer to Wolves was accomplished it was crucial that Dest was signed for €21m and Aarons discarded.
Bayern Munich had additionally been linked with the pair however, till 48 hours earlier than Dest was introduced as a brand new Barca signing, the German giants have been totally satisfied they might signal him. The European champions will need to have cursed the skies pink, white and blue in disbelief when Dest’s brokers informed Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic that their shopper most well-liked to hitch the membership Germany‘s perpetual champions had simply thrashed 8-2 en path to successful the Treble.
There had been a clue final 12 months when ex-Ajax, Inter and Everton winger Andy van der Meyde, now working in TV, requested the rising Ajax full-back whether or not he fancied life in Spain, and at which membership? Dest answered: “I believe it will be higher for me enjoying for Barcelona. Madrid is completely different — they’re extra about all-effort and struggling exhausting to win. I see Feynoord-Ajax comparisons: Feyenoord is Madrid and Ajax is Barca.” I assume it was written within the stars there after which.
Ale Moreno praises the efficiency of Sergino Dest in his first-ever El Clasico regardless of Barcelona’s 3-1 defeat.
But, with the Juventus match arriving on Wednesday, and given Pique’s pink card in opposition to Ferencvaros means he’ll be watching from his couch slightly than going into battle in opposition to Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala, it is likely to be that Koeman decides there’s a spot for Sergi Roberto‘s sizeable expertise at right-back as a substitute of Dest.
Pique’s absence signifies that 21-year-old Uruguayan Ronald Araujo will probably accomplice Lenglet at centre-back, however in what formation? If Koeman is joyful sufficient to revert to 4-2-3-1 as a result of his three-at-the-back was only a Hail Mary try on the finish of a shedding Clasico when he wished to flood the pitch with attacking substitutes (too late, Coach, FAR too late), then maybe he asks Roberto to assist chaperone Araujo and tells Dest to observe from the bench?
I hope not. It appears a risible concept given how nicely the U.S. worldwide has carried out since approaching at left-back for the injured Jordi Alba late within the draw in opposition to Sevilla three weeks in the past. However you by no means know.
Alba raced again early from a muscle pressure to attempt to repel Madrid and, the truth is, created a lot of Barcelona’s attacking risk together with their terrific equaliser. He labored till he dropped and whereas he has not re-injured himself, the large bodily effort he put in adopted by the briefest of recuperation time then a flight to Turin and a match in opposition to serially tough rivals, would possibly make the physios, docs and Koeman ponder the concept of letting him begin on the bench. In consequence, Dest would possibly once more be requested to play left-back.
As a facet be aware, if Araujo is chosen to interchange Pique, it should be fascinating to observe the 21-year-old. Just lately, Barcelona have turn out to be a model title for purchasing and promoting badly — over €350m spent on Ousmane Dembele, Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann in comparison with what the three of them have given again for the outlay — and, at a time when a number of gamers have been renewed for lengths of contracts which make no sense, at inflated wages, whomever can declare to have his fingerprints on the signing of Araujo for round €2m from Uruguayan facet Boston River in August 2018 can stand aside from the road of dunces in that division.
The imposing centre-back has regarded fast, athletic and more and more assured at bringing the ball out from the again each time he is had vital first-team publicity. He has lots to show and plenty to be taught, but it surely is likely to be that in Araujo, and virtually actually in Dest, Barcelona have bucked their pattern of splurging ridiculous sums on footballers who do not match and are offered on for large monetary losses.
Maybe a no-holds-barred evening in Turin, below examination from the hard-nosed perpetual Serie A winners, even when they do not have Cristiano Ronaldo to name upon, will injury my prediction. However proper now it is simple to see Wednesday being the beginning of Dest and Araujo enjoying collectively, efficiently and enjoyably, for a really very long time to return.