Ronald Koeman believes he retains the backing of Barcelona’s players but accepts his future is not in his own hands after the club’s embarrassing 3-0 Champions League defeat by Benfica.
Barca followed up their 3-0 matchday one loss to Bayern Munich by an even more humiliating defeat as they left Lisbon on the end of another three-goal defeat on Wednesday.
It means Barca have lost the first two matches of a Champions League campaign for the first time ever and leaves them bottom of Group E.
On top of that, Barca have now lost back-to-back group-stage matches for the first since 2000-01, while Benfica’s win equalled their biggest ever in the competition.
Barca have been in turmoil ever since Lionel Messi’s departure was confirmed last month and their situation has been exacerbated by the financial issues that had threatened to consume the embattle LaLiga giants for months.
Wednesday’s defeat came a matter of hours after LaLiga confirmed Barca’s salary cap spending limit for 2021-22 had been cut by €280million to just €97m, only the seventh-highest in Spain’s top flight, highlighting the plight they find themselves in.
“I am not going to discuss the level of this team,” Koeman told reporters after the Benfica loss.
“Everyone knows what Barca’s problem is today. It’s not possible to comment on a team that is not the one of past years. For me this is clearer than water.
“I cannot say anything about my future. I feel very supported by my players and their attitude, but I don’t know what the club thinks.
“It’s not in my hands, and that’s why I don’t want to answer anything about my future. We will see what happens. I accept the world in which we coaches live.”
Barca found themselves 1-0 down in the third minute but created numerous chances to equalise before the break, with Luuk de Jong and Frenkie de Jong wasting glorious opportunities.
According to the expected goals (xG) metric, Barca would ordinarily have expected to score 1.4 goals on Wednesday – while that was still less than Benfica’s 1.9, it is evidence of their wastefulness.
But the Portuguese hosts were clinical. Rafa Silva effectively put the game beyond Barca deep into the second half and Darwin Nunez added to his opener with a late penalty to compound the visitors’ embarrassment, and Koeman accepted the responsibility.
“In the end, the culprit is the coach,” he continued. “I think that during many phases of the game the approach was good.
“I understand that after going 2-0 down we had more problems. But I think we had opportunities to score two goals. We have been inferior in effectiveness, not over the course of the match.
“We are at a time where we have to change many things and there are many people missing. I don’t think there’s any need to repeat this.”
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