Gerard Piqué He lived in his flesh against Benfica an unusual situation for him and also hardly normal for the world of football, in which the unwritten code specifies that a player should never be changed before half-time, unless he is doing very badly, has been injured or is blamed for what is happening on the field of play. All the alarms went off in the Da Luz stadium when the center-back was substituted after half an hour of play but the surprise came when the footballer went directly to the bench and did not receive the attention of the team doctor or any physiotherapist. The change had been a decision by Koeman that pointed directly to the Catalan. Not even the stripes that Piqué wears on and off the field and inside the dressing room stopped the Dutch coach, who decided to take him off the field. What’s more, if someone thought it was a tactical correction for their decision to form with a 3-5-2, they immediately realized that the coach persisted in his approach by delaying Frenkie de Jong to the axis of the rear to continue playing with three centrals.
«We were lucky that they didn’t get the second yellow for Piqué. In our pressure game, having a player like that … with Frenkie we had a better player with the ball than Gerard in that sense. If you don’t score the goal, you’re not right. This is how it works “, Koeman justified his decision after finishing the game and explained the reasons why he preferred to sacrifice De Jong in the offensive phase:” First you think about changing Piqué for the card. He almost saw the second in the twentieth of the game. It’s risky. They have fast people upstairs. It is a matter of change. Then you think about who you can put there because you are losing. From minute 30 to 60 we see a team that controls the game. They have had their chances. I know that Frenkie was in the first opportunities, but he was also one of those who failed at the top so as not to tie the game. It has been an important position change. Of course, if we don’t dial, I already know how this is and I’m not right ».
Koeman has been characterized since he arrived at Barcelona for imposing his criteria and basing his decisions on the meritocracy, which is why footballers like Pedri, Gavi, Nico, Balde or Ilaix Moriba have had their chances. Commented were his decisions to seat Griezmann last year and to persist in his tactical approaches despite the directives set by the board. The last to fall was Piqué, that I do not accept with too much good face the change so early. The footballer could be seen on the bench, very serious and thoughtful.
Do not forget that Piqué was one of the players who denied Koeman last week after the coach read a statement assuring that “it would be a success to be in the top positions in LaLiga”, while calling it a “miracle” think about doing something important in the Champions League, using the overwhelming defeat against Bayern as an example. Piqué was very clear after the draw against Cádiz: “I’m not wearing the Barça shirt to finish third or second and in the quarterfinals in the Champions League”, he assured, contradicting his coach. Although he was conciliatory: «Let’s not seek friction or two sides. This does not help anyone, much less the players or the team. We have to be more united than ever ». Sergi Roberto also lined up with the central defender. «It is not enough for me to be among the first four. That is taken for granted. This is Barça and we have to win the League », commented the Reus. Despite these words, which show differences of opinion between the dressing room and the coach, the two players were starters against Benfica. It will be necessary to see now if the change of this Wednesday has consequences and how it will affect the relationship between Piqué and Koeman, although it does not seem likely that the coach will direct the team much longer.
Koeman has always been a dialogue technician but with an iron fist. In Barcelona he made it clear to several players that he did not have them, such as Luis Suárez, Umtiti, Pjanic o Riqui Puig. Even like Ilaix, he was disappointed in his attitude. Encontronazos that are not new for a technician who lived a bitter experience during his time at Valencia, when he decided to do without heavyweights such as Cañizares, Albelda and Angulo. He also had problems with Joaquín. The last controversy was lived with Pjanic, who did not have a leading role with the Dutchman. When this summer he left on loan to Besiktas, he charged hard against Koeman, whom he accused of disrespecting him. «I am a player who can accept everything but I would always like to be told things face to face. No As if nothing happened and was 15 years old. I have fought to the end, I have been professional with the boys, always working to be well, also for them ”, explained the Bosnian in an interview in the Marca newspaper. The coach’s response was brief but forceful: “I understand his frustration, but there are better players than him.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism