Criticism of Koeman's 4-2-3-1 emerge in the Barcelona dressing room

Criticism of Koeman's 4-2-3-1 emerge in the Barcelona dressing room

Koeman: Entramos al partido con miedo / | Perform

The players feel the shape leaves them unbalanced and out of position

Ronald Koeman's future at Barcelona may be up for debate if the club had a board and a president in place. In normal circumstances, we would be talking about the possibility of letting him go after recent results. The press and the socios would be discussing a change. However, that's not the case. But there is criticism from elsewhere. 

SPORT have learned from sources close to the first-team squad that there are complaints about the coach in the dressing room. It is not to do with his behaviour (as was the case with Quique Setien) or a lack of use of the academy (like Ernesto Valverde). Neither is it for not being honest or for speaking too much in press conferences. 

As a person, Koeman is liked. He has no enemies, although there are aspects of his philosophy that are being disputed by the dressing room and the criticism of his tactics has increased recently. 

It's been over 10 weeks since the first game of the season, a 4-0 win over Villarreal, and since then there have been some good results (nine wins) and some disappointing ones (five defeats). It's been a roller coaster. They have always lost against stronger teams (Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Getafe and Juventus). They are unreliable. 


With poor results, nerves have appeared in the dressing room. Griezmann blamed the players' attitude after the Juve game and Ter Stegen picked on individual mistakes and "how we defend." So there is self-criticism but in the dressing room they're beginning to feel there is a common denominator in regards to the style of play since Koeman arrived. 

The 4-2-3-1, according to them, goes against what they have grown up playing at the club (4-3-3) and that lack of knowledge of the system provokes tactical errors. In principle, the system penalises the team's stability because there are four attacking and four defending and then just two in the middle trying to stop the leaks. They don't attack well or defend well. 

The argument is there's a big gap between the defence and the attack and the opposition are finding space to attack Ter Stegen. At the same time, the attack is not fluid. Messi has to drop deep and is doing too much alone (10 shots against Juve). 

There's another detail to analyse and keep in mind regarding the mistakes in recent weeks. "There's no player in top form at the moment and this system hasn't improved the performances of any player. They've got worse," is one complaint. 

That's the case with Coutinho, Busquets, De Jong, Messi and Griezmann, to give some examples. 

The dressing room also feels there are structural problems that make the application of the 4-2-3-1 difficult. The absence of a goal scorer like Luis Suarez complicates things. It's different when you have an experienced striker in the side. Suarez was ready to go but the problem is the lack of replacement. 

Bad luck has also played a part with Ter Stegen, Umtiti, Araujo, Pique, Sergi Roberto, Ansu Fati, Dembele and Coutinho all injured at one stage or another. 

The dressing room, directly and indirectly, has tried to mediate with Koeman to contemplate a return to the 4-3-3 to improve the balance of the side. However, for now, he has not wanted to renounce his plans for the team. 

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