Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman explained his decision to leave Antoine Griezmann on the bench for the second match running and change his tactics for Saturday’s La Liga clash with Sevilla.
The Dutchman changed formation and employed three center-backs against Julen Lopetegui’s side. Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest were employed as wing-backs, while Ousmane Dembele partnered Lionel Messi in attack.
It proved to be an inspired decision by Koeman as his Barcelona team ran out 2-0 winners to move into second place in the table. Dembele and Messi were both on target, while Griezmann did not make it off the bench.
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Koeman Talks Tactics
Koeman spoke about leaving Griezmann out after the match and denied he was sending the Frenchman a message. Griezmann’s goals have dried up after a hot streak since the turn of the year, and the World Cup winner has not scored in his last six matches.
Yet Barcelona boss insisted he was not punishing Griezmann and instead wanted more pace in attack in the form of Dembele, as reported by Marca.
It’s not a message. We decided to change the system and, to be able to get in behind, we put Dembele up top. With the first goal, we said that we needed someone quicker than Griezmann on Messi’s side. It’s not a punishment.
Griezmann certainly appeared in good spirits after the game. The forward took to social media to celebrate his team’s win.
Koeman also spoke about his decision to switch from his usual 4-3-3 formation and admitted it had been something of a risk.
We tried to press our opponent but playing with three center-backs and high wing-backs. It made it easier for us to stop Sevilla playing. That was the key. It was a risky system. Without the ball, we pressed, we tried to play man to man. Our game without the ball was key. It was a very complete match.
The two teams meet again on Wednesday for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie. Sevilla lead 2-0 after the first leg but Barca will be confident they can turn things around after Saturday’s impressive win.
Ilaix to Replace Pedri?
Fellow teenager Ilaix Moriba replaced Pedri and could now come into contention for Wednesday’s match. Saturday’s win was just Moriba’s second La Liga outing but he did enough to earn praise from his manager.
The Barcelona boss said, “He was very good. He was strong and very calm on the ball after coming on. He contributed in the little time he had. He helped us to win.”
Koeman now has some big decisions to make ahead of the match, and it will be interesting to see if he sticks with the team that performed so well on Saturday or make changes for what is another crucial fixture.