The manager of FC Barcelona, Ronald Koeman has lamented that the Spanish La Liga title race for the 2020-2021 season is complicated after failing to lead the Spanish giants to defeat lowly rated Eibar.
Barcelona continued with their push to return to the top four on the league table and probably contend in the La Liga title race with first placed Atletico Madrid and second-placed Real Madrid but their effort ended below expectation on Tuesday, December 29.
The club’s talisman, Lionel Messi sat on the bench and watched FC Barcelona struggled to get a point against Eibar. The 33-year-old Argentina international who has been nursing an ankle injury, returned from Argentina early enough for the match but was not fit enough to play.
Hence, Ousmane Dembele captained Barcelona to face the struggling 15th placed Spanish club at Camp Nou. Barcelona had 16 shots but only 5 of the shots were on target.
It became so bad for Barcelona that Martin Braithwaite could not convert a penalty kick and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), had to rule out one of Barcelona’s goal as offside. Hence, the match ended 1-1.
The draw left FC Barcelona on the 6th spot on the league table with 25 points in 15 league games after recording 7 wins, 4 draws, and 4 defeats. The Spanish giants are now 7 points away from the first placed
“If I’m realistic, the title is very complicated,” Ronald Koeman said. “Nothing is impossible, but you have to recognize the distance.
“Atletico seem to me to be very good, very strong. They don’t concede many goals…
“We lacked Leo (Messi), who makes a difference. But the feeling is still, how did we not win? We created many opportunities, missed a penalty, and gave away a goal.
“It cannot be said that Barca play better without Messi. He is on another level. In general, we played a good game, but individual mistakes have cost us points.”
The gap between 6th placed Barcelona and first placed Atletico Madrid is beyond the 7 points that are currently between them because Atletico have played just 13 league games so far this season while Barcelona have played 15.
This means that if the league leaders win their two outstanding games to equal their total number of games with that of Barcelona, Atletico would have 13 points more than Barcelona with the same number of games.
As it stands, Atletico Madrid are in cruise control of the La Liga title race this season and it will take a very serious injury crisis at the club for them to relinquish their current position to any other club.