Koeman understands questions about his Barca future after Levante capitulation

By Sports Desk May 11, 2021

Ronald Koeman understands why further doubts were being raised about his Barcelona future after a 3-3 draw at Levante dealt a major blow to their LaLiga title hopes.

Barca needed a victory to go top of the table at Estadi Ciutat de Valencia on Tuesday and were well on course for three points at half-time courtesy of goals from Lionel Messi and Pedri.

The Blaugrana relinquished their lead all too easily after the break, though, with Gonzalo Melero and Jose Luis Morales on target in the space of two minutes.

Ousmane Dembele put Barca back in front, but more slack defending allowed Sergio Leon to nip in for an equaliser seven minutes from time.

Barca trail leaders Atletico Madrid by a point with only two matches to play, while Real Madrid are only a point behind them in third place and both capital clubs have a game in hand.

Koeman's future had already been called into question before this huge setback, so the Dutchman was not surprised to be asked if he felt his position is under the threat.

He said: "Coaches are always questioned but I understand that, after that second half, there are questions.

"We are disappointed and we're wondering what happened. We have to move on and prepare for next season.

"As a coach, you're always responsible. We spoke at half time about improving defensively and not dropping our intensity. We were hopeful, we were 2-0 ahead. You don't expect to draw from there."

Koeman knows Barca's chances of being crowned champions are slim ahead of their remaining games against Celta Vigo and Eibar.

He added: "Our aim was to win all three games and hope that the others would lose points, but now it's difficult.

"Games last for 90 minutes and we lost a lot in the second half. They caused problems and we didn't defend well. It's very disappointing. It's impossible to understand what happened. It's difficult to explain it."

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    Xavi admitted his Barcelona team failed to match the intensity of Athletic Bilbao as they tumbled out of the Copa del Rey at the last-16 stage, another blow in a dismal season.

    Barcelona may yet claw their way into the Champions League places in LaLiga, but their trophy pursuit looks doomed to failure. Beaten by Real Madrid last week in the Supercopa semi-finals, a 3-2 defeat after extra time against Athletic on Thursday was another bitter pill for head coach Xavi and his players.

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    The defeat in Bilbao, where home captain Iker Muniain capped an inspiring performance with two goals, means Barcelona have failed to reach at least the quarter-final stage of the Copa del Rey for the first time since 2009-10.

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    A handball by Jordi Alba was punished by Muniain from the penalty spot near the end of the first half of extra time, and this time Athletic did not relinquish their lead.

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    He was not minded to contest the penalty decision after the final whistle. Alba was struck on the arm by Nico Williams' cross, and with VAR guidance it was an obvious spot-kick.

    Former Al Sadd boss Xavi, who took over the Barcelona top job in November, said his team would "fight" for their remaining objectives.

    It remains to be seen when Fati is seen again in action. He looked distressed, tearful, on leaving the pitch barely half an hour after entering the action. That setback compounded the misery of a regrettable evening.

    Speaking to Barca TV, Xavi said: "We need to continue believing in this project, continue in LaLiga and continue in the Europa League. This is the way, continue to keep going and working hard."

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