Ronald Koeman has made it quite clear over the course of this season that he is no big fan of VAR, but there’s more to Barcelona‘s troubles than refereeing decisions.
The international break seemed to come at a bad time for the Blaugrana, who haven’t quite looked the same since.
Here we take a look at some of the non-VAR factors Koeman needs to sort out quickly if this campaign is going to have a chance of ending successfully for the Catalans.
Pressing isn’t working
In the last two matches, against Real Valladolid and Real Madrid, Barcelona have struggled to execute an effective press which truly impedes the opposition’s ability to play out.
Getting that right is key to Koeman’s side being at their best, but against Los Blancos it was too easy for Zinedine Zidane‘s men to play through them.
The element of surprise has been lost
The switch to a back three got some early results, but is no longer a surprise for opposition teams and they are beginning to learn how to counter this new Barcelona.
That doesn’t mean they have to change again, but they need to work harder now that teams know what to expect.
Dembele is an island
The French forward spends too much time isolated from the game and that is a concern as he is a player who needs to stay involved, not one who can be anonymous and then pop up out of nowhere to great effect.
Messi is too deep
When things aren’t working for Barcelona, Lionel Messi drops back to get things going himself, but the Argentine cannot do it all and shouldn’t have to be retreating almost to his own area in order to get involved.
It’s not Koeman‘s fault, but he has few options on the bench if he needs someone to come on and change the game.
Starting games poorly
A recurring problem for Barcelona this season has been the tendency to begin games poorly and, after looking to have eradicated it, this issue seems to have returned in recent weeks.
Problems playing out
Another theme this campaign, and not helped by Gerard Pique‘s injury problems, has been Barcelona‘s struggles in playing out from the back.
This isn’t something Clement Lenglet or Ronald Araujo excel at, which has prompted Koeman to use Frenkie de Jong as a centre-back. But, that is not a long-term solution.