New Delhi: 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.