The 'deadly sins' that cost Ronald Koeman's Barcelona their first trophy

Barça squandered a great chance to register some silverware in the Spanish Supercopa on Sunday

| sport

Toni Juanmartí

Ronald Koeman's Barcelona missed their first chance to win a trophy despite leading in the Spanish Supercopa final going into the final minute.

For many, the equaliser from Villalibre in the 90th minute provided justice for what had happened leading up to that point, with Barça's goal tally not a reflection of how they had played.

In extra-time, Athletic were boosted by their late leveller and Barça ran out of ideas. It was already too late to make up for the various 'sins' they had committed at La Cartuja.

Barça failed to press Athletic from the start. Koeman recognised when he took over that his side needed to recovery a high press yet they forgot on Sunday.

Messi, Dembele and Griezmann didn't push high and it made it impossible to win the ball back close to Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon's area.

What was Koeman's thinking there? One of the explications could be that he wanted to tempt Athletic out, to draw them further up the pitch. Another could be that with Messi not 100 percent fit, the Dutch coach preferred a less demanding setup.

Barça were also slow when it came to moving the ball. Only when they were allowed space could they create danger. The over population of the midfield made it tough. De Jong tried with his driving runs and Dembele with his changes of rhythm, but there was never any fluidity.

Koeman's side weren't firm at the back, either. Jordi Alba let Oscar De Marcos in too easily for Athletic's first goal, which made it 1-1. De Marcos was free to connect with Iñaki Williams' cross.

In the second half, Raul Garcia was unmarked to score a header, too. The goal was ruled out for offside but Barça could not have been sure -- it was tight.

That should have served as a warning but it didn't. In the last minute, Villalibre was able to ghost in and score from a free-kick amid some passive Barça defending -- especially from Lenglet -- to force extra-time.

Whatever happened in extra-time, Barça had already taken a step back. They had been unable to shine in a big game and had shown weakness when it came to holding on to a lead. Ahead of the PSG tie in the Champions League, it doesn't serve well.

Once again they failed to see a game out, which is where Koeman comes into the picture. They settled after the second goal from Griezmann, which made it 2-1 in the 77th minute, and the Dutch coach took off Pedri and Ousmane Dembele in the final phase of the match.

Without Pedri, Barça's options of defending with the ball reduced, which is the best way to kill games off. In addition, taking off Dembele removed the chance of 'killing' the game on the break, with Athletic forced to take risks.

The foul count ended with Athletic committing 24 and BArça 15, a demonstration of the intensity shown by Marcelino's side. In attack, despite scoring two goals, Barça lacked aggression. They had just four shots on target in 120 minutes. Low numbers for a team branded the favourite for the tie and expected to dominate the game.

Without playing well, Barça didn't offer a winning spirit, either. Without the first, it's hard to win but you can compete. Without the second, it's impossible to progress as a team.

This was a setback for Koeman, who must find solutions in the next month, which is when PSG are due at Camp Nou.



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