Barcelona in crisis: Cadiz draw marks latest setback to Koeman's reign
MADRID (AP) — Barcelona's ongoing crisis keeps getting worse, with the team unable to win on the field and the club's players, coach and president growing increasingly at odds.
Barcelona was held to a 0-0 draw by Cadiz in the Spanish league on Thursday, extending its winless streak to three matches and adding pressure on coach Ronald Koeman.
Koeman a day earlier surprisingly read from a prepared statement in the pre-match news conference and downplayed the team’s chances of winning titles this season.
Players didn't hide the fact they were not on the same page.
"I'm not wearing Barca's jersey to finish second or third," veteran defender Gerard Pique said after the match. "I'm convinced that despite our bad start we will be contending at the end of the season."
President Joan Laporta, who said he was caught by surprise by Koeman's statement ahead of the match, has been at odds recently with the coach who was hired by former president Josep Bartomeu.
"We have to be more united than ever," Barcelona's Sergi Roberto said. "The fans, the squad, the coach, the president ... we have to be united to overcome this situation. We are not going through a good moment but I'm convinced that we will overcome it."
Barcelona, without Lionel Messi after nearly two decades, had to hold on in the end against Cadiz after midfielder Frenkie de Jong was sent off with a second yellow card in the 65th minute. Koeman also was sent off for complaining to the referee in the final minutes.
"I can't complain about the attitude of the players," Koeman said. "We did everything possible. It was a complicated match."
The draw left Barcelona in seventh place in the league standings, seven points behind leader Real Madrid with a game in hand. Madrid routed Mallorca 6-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday to stay two points ahead of defending champion Atletico Madrid, which won 2-1 at Getafe on Tuesday.
"We are Barca and we still have a very good squad," Roberto said. "We have a team that can win this league and we will try to win it."
Barcelona was coming off two consecutive setbacks at home — a 3-0 defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League and a 1-1 draw against Granada in the Spanish league, when it needed a 90th-minute equalizer to escape defeat.
Cadiz nearly opened the scoring through Alvaro Negredo's shot from outside the area in the 46th, forcing Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make a difficult save by the top corner.
One of Barcelona's best chances was a low shot by Memphis Depay that was stopped by Cadiz goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma a few minutes later. The Dutch striker missed an opportunity to score the winner deep into stoppage time when his shot from inside the area went wide in a one-on-one situation.
With an extra man, Cadiz had most of the chances at the end but couldn't capitalize on them, with Ter Stegen making a few good saves.
De Jong was sent off after sliding in to try to steal the ball from an opponent.
Barcelona remains depleted by injuries and Koeman started the match with two teenagers — 17-year-old midfielder Gavi and 18-year-old forward Yusuf Demir.
Cadiz hasn't won in its first four league matches at home this season and was coming off two straight losses at the Nuevo Mirandilla Stadium. It went winless in its first five home matches at home last season. It has only won victory so far this season.
Cadiz defender Fali Gimenez left the match in tears and on a stretcher after getting injured without contact before halftime. It appeared to be a left knee injury.
SOCIEDAD MOVES UP
Real Sociedad climbed to third place with a 3-2 win at Granada, moving within three points of leader Madrid. Aritz Elustondo scored twice for the visitors, including the winner in the 82nd.
Granada, which opened the scoring less than 10 minutes into the match, is yet to win this season, with three losses.
BETIS WINS AGAIN
Real Betis won 3-1 at Osasuna for its third victory in four matches in all competitions.
Manuel Pellegrini's team is eighth in the standings. It had started the season winless in its first three matches.