Lionel Messi was in the stands to watch Barcelona sign off 2020 with a disappointing draw against Eibar in La Liga at the Camp Nou.
It was a tough night for the Catalan giants who missed a penalty, saw a goal disallowed, and then had to come from behind to snatch a point.
Messi was spotted standing with his hands in pockets at the full-time whistle before turning away with a shake of the head and walking towards the exit.
The result leaves Barca with just seven wins from 15 La Liga games so far this season and still looking a long way off being able to challenge for the title. Leaders Atletico Madrid remain seven points ahead of Barca and have played two games less.
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Barca Miss Messi
Barcelona lined up without Messi on Tuesday due to an ankle problem and struggled for goals without their captain. Striker Martin Braithwaite missed an early penalty and then saw a goal ruled out for a marginal offside.
The Catalan giants’ penalty record this season in La Liga makes for pretty grim reading.
To make matters worse the hosts went behind in the second half after a poor error from defender Ronald Araujo. The center-back carelessly lost possession in his own half which led to Kike opening the scoring.
Barca did manage to hit back through substitute Ousmane Dembele. The Frenchman struck his fifth goal of the season on his return to action from a hamstring injury.
Yet Barca could not find a winner despite dominating possession and pressing hard in the closing stages of the game. Koeman threw on Francisco Trincao, Philippe Coutinho, and Riqui Puig but the hosts had to settle for a draw.
Barca’s record without Messi in the team is pretty telling.
Koeman confirmed before the match that Messi is due to return to training this week after the Eibar game which means he could be in contention for Barca’s first match of 2021 at Huesca on January 3. On this evidence, they will be keen to have him back as soon as possible.
Koeman Says Barcelona ‘Deserved’ Win
The result will not go down well with supporters and certainly did not impress Koeman who offered his thoughts on his team’s latest disappointment after the match, as reported by Marca.
We deserved to win, we did what we had to do. They only shot on goal once. We created chances, but we didn’t score the penalty and then a mistake on defense … We did well, we worked hard and we did enough to win, but this is happening many times.
I think in the first half it was quite difficult for us to make vertical passes because they pressed us well from behind. We need a lot of time to look for the free man. I have changed the system to generate more play. We have had opportunities to score, although we have not done so. A mistake has cost us a goal, although no one can be blamed. Anyone can fail.
It’s another disappointing result to end what has been a tough year for Barca both on and off the pitch, and the result will put more pressure on Koeman ahead of a crucial January at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona play five La Liga fixtures, take on Real Sociedad in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup and hold presidential elections on January 24. The transfer window also opens on January 1, although Barca are not expected to be busy due to the club’s difficult financial situation.