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Sports Koeman gone, Barcelona shops for coach with Xavi as favorite

14:06  28 october  2021
14:06  28 october  2021 Source:   msn.com

Barcelona starts critical 3-game home stint for Koeman

  Barcelona starts critical 3-game home stint for Koeman BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Ronald Koeman got a reprieve. Now he needs to make it last. A visit from Valencia on Sunday kicks off a three-game home stint that the Barcelona coach said must mark a turnaround for his beleaguered team. After facing Valencia, Barcelona will host Dynamo Kyiv and Real Madrid within a week. The run of games at Camp Nou comes after an international break that gave Koeman a chance to regroup following a tumultuous period for a team struggling to win without Lionel Messi. Two weeks ago, Koeman’s job was considered in serious jeopardy after Barcelona had lost both of its Champions League games by an identical 3-0 score.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — With its coffers depleted and a critical Champions League match right around the corner, Barcelona was looking for a new coach on Thursday after Ronald Koeman suffered one too many painful losses.

  Koeman gone, Barcelona shops for coach with Xavi as favorite © Provided by The Canadian Press

Former midfielder Xavi Hernández, who for years has been linked to a return to the club he helped lift to its greatest heights as a player, appears to be the leading candidate. First, however, the 41-year-old Xavi would have to free himself from his job coaching Qatari club Al Sadd.

An immediate and possibly short-term solution could be for Barcelona to promote either reserve team coach Sergi Barjuán or Albert Capellas, director of its youth teams, to lead the squad for Saturday’s Spanish league match against Alavés.

What is El Clasico? Real Madrid vs Barcelona nickname explained

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Three days later, Barcelona faces a trip to Ukraine to play Dynamo Kyiv in a match it will need to win to boost its chances of continuing its two-decade long run of reaching the Champions League knockout rounds.

Koeman had justified defeats to Bayern Munich, Benfica, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid this season by arguing that his team was simply no longer among Europe’s elite after its financial troubles forced it to shed the wages of Lionel Messi and other top talents. He also insisted that injuries among his attacking players had limited its effectiveness.

Less than a month ago, club president Joan Laporta had publicly backed Koeman, asking fans to be patient as the team undergoes a rebuilding project.

But Koeman’s credit ran out after Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano, a modest rival that had not beaten Barcelona since 2002. Barcelona, the dominant Spanish league team over the past two decades, is in ninth place in the standings.

Madrid wins 2-1 at Barcelona in first post-Messi 'clásico'

  Madrid wins 2-1 at Barcelona in first post-Messi 'clásico' BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — David Alaba and Lucas Vázquez scored as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 at Camp Nou on Sunday in the rivals’ first “clásico” match since the exit of Lionel Messi. Defender Alaba turned goal-scorer in the 32nd minute with a wonderful curling shot from the left side of the area that the outstretched Marc-Andre ter Stegen could not stop. Alaba's strike came minutes after American Sergiño Dest wasted a great chance for Barcelona, sending his close-range shot soaring over the crossbar. Vázquez added a second goal in stoppage time on a counterattack with Barcelona desperately thrown forward in search of an equalizer.

Koeman, a former Barcelona defender, took over Barcelona when its economic crisis was just being felt following a devastating 8-2 loss to Bayern at the end of the 2019-20 season that cost predecessor Quique Setién his job.

The 58-year-old Dutch coach led Barcelona to last season’s Copa del Rey title, but it exited the Champions League in the round-of-16 and finished the Spanish league in third place.

Koeman did, however, set the foundation of a rejuvenated Barcelona by bringing youngsters Pedri González, Gavi Páez, Ronald Araújo and Óscar Mingueza into his starting lineup and making Ansu Fati one of the team’s leaders along with veterans Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba.

But its trouble scoring — one goal in three Champions League matches — and its inability to respond to adversity once behind showed that Koeman's team was not performing up its potential.

“We showed that we had talent, but it wasn’t enough,” Koeman said hours before he was let go.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press

Barça squanders lead in 3-3 draw before Xavi takes over .
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Xavi Hernández had plenty to like and much more to lament about Barcelona’s wild 3-3 draw at Celta Vigo on Saturday, when his soon-to-be team squandered a three-goal halftime lead. Playing its final match under caretaker coach Sergi Barjuan before Xavi takes over as its new full-time manager, Barcelona roared out to a 3-0 lead after playing one of its best halves of the season. But injuries to Ansu Fati and Nico González, who were having inspired performances, and the resurgence of its defensive doubts helped Iago Aspas led Celta back with his second-half brace.

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