Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was left bemoaning injuries after his team’s 3-0 defeat at Camp Nou against Bayern Munich in the Champions League – admitting the Catalans cannot compete.
With Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann gone as a result of cost slashing, and Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero injured, surprise summer signing Luuk de Jong led the line against Bayern.
Barça were poor on the night and failed to muster a single shot on target in 90 minutes.
“Today we only had three forwards, nothing more,” Koeman reflected, via Mundo Deportivo.
“Tactically there were many phases of the game that we had controlled. We have tried to fill spaces near [Robert] Lewandowski, we have tried to compete better, but it is what it is.”
Barça were humiliated by Bayern in an 8-2 thrashing in the Champions League in 2020. Despite the gulf that still exists between the sides there was no repeat of that and Koeman said afterwards that he couldn’t have asked for more from his players in how they approached the game.
“I can’t complain about the attitude,” he said. “There is a difference in quality, as a team and a bench that is also better. In two or three years these young players are going to be better. It is very difficult to accept, but this is what there is.
“Bayern is one of the candidates to win the title. We lacked speed up front, we have tried to put young people to give energy. There were differences between our young people and their players. They have shown that they will have a great future, but today there is distance.”
Koeman specifically defended De Jong, who was making his debut. Philippe Coutinho was making his first appearance of the season, while Jordi Alba played through illness.
“It was the first game for Luuk de Jong and the first minutes for Coutinho. Jordi Alba had a fever at night,” the coach explained.
“It takes a few weeks to get people back. Aguero, Ansu Fati, [Ousmane] Dembele…”