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FC Barcelona: Addressing the Penalties Issue

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYXQYj8lMcY

After a streak of games in which the squad had missed 5 chances from the penalty spot, FC Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman admitted in a press-conference previous to their game against Elche that the recent crucial shot failure was unacceptable for a team as important as the Catalan giant, and he’s creating a solution. According to the Dutch legend, having effective shooters other than Lionel Messi is essential to their aspirations, especially looking ahead in the schedule.

FC Barcelona: Too Big To Fail?

Dissatisfied and even with a point of anger, Koeman took Barcelona to the next round in Copa del Rey after defeating minor team Cornellá, in a game “in which we had much more to lose than win”, but he did not forget to emphasize the wrong penalties and that, according to him, “have prevented us from having a much more comfortable game than it was at the end”.

The coach stressed that, in a team of the stature of the Blaugrana, it is shameful to miss two penalties. “Throughout the season, we’ve had twelve chances to score from that point and we’ve missed seven. It’s too many, and that’s why I’ve already put emphasis on our training”, concluded Koeman.

In addition, the team has had the misfortune of missing these shots in the most important moments and games. In the semifinal of the Supercopa, against Real Sociedad, FC Barcelona missed two of their five attempts, which worries fans ahead of the knockout stages of the Champions League, where mistakes are punished more severely.

Underperforming Stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5Mq_vNN1b0

Before their game against Elche, FC Barcelona had scored 58.3% of the penalties it takes, with Messi being the star player who has performed the best in this task, missing only one of his seven shots.

The biggest problem lies in the feet of Ousmane Dembélé and Martin Braithwaite, who assumed the responsibility of shooting in the absence of the Argentine. However, between the two they have missed two of four chances. Antoine Griezmann and Miralem Pjanic had an even worse performance, as they both erred in their respective runs.

The manager has legitimate reasons to be so enraged. Compared to other big UEFA clubs, the Catalan team has the worst efficacy rate from the 11-meter mark. La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid, who are emerging as the broad favorites to win the 2020-21 season, have a 60% success rate, while teams like Milan, Juventus, and PSG boast 71, 86, and 89 percent, respectively. And this pales in comparison to Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich, who have converted all of their penalties this season.

The match against Cornellá worsened the situation, as Ramón Juan, the goalkeeper of the humble Segunda B team, became the only one in history to make two penalty saves against Barcelona in the same confrontation.

“Leo Messi is our man, but if he is not here, we need others who have quality and who score penalties ”, declared the Dutchman. The fact that that FC Barcelona captain had to face a suspension after attacking player Asier Villalibre in the Supercopa final only exposed the problem further.

Asked about who will be entrusted with the task of penalties in the absence of the crack, Koeman replied that “We will decide the two players who can shoot the penalties, but as always, our captain will have the last word”, as it is customary in FC Barcelona’s cluhouse code that Messi himself should choose who will cover for him.

Curiously, Messi was strongly criticized in the past for his mistakes from the penalty spot, to the point of being considered the Achilles heel of the Argentine. Now the team has shown such inconsistency that their dependence on him is more evident. Koeman has a new challenge ahead of him, and he needs to solve it as soon as possible if FC Barcelona wants to keep its place among the European elite.

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Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa is a writer, editor, and radio producer from Mexico. He loves Salsa music and lives in a place literally called Paradise.