BARCELONA

Koeman leading Barcelona in right direction

Seven goals for and zero against in two games for Barcelona. The Dutch coach has recovered the respect for the club crest and players are on board with the former Barça player.

Gerard Piqué and Leo Messi were born in 1987; Sergio Busquets in 1988; Jordi Alba in 1989, and Sergi Roberto in 1992. Without counting, obviously, Ansu Fati (born in 2002). Those are the Barça youth players who started the game against Celta Vigo in Thursday night's 0-3 win at Balaídos. The strike of his right boot at Wembley in 1992 is universal. And it will always rumble. That is Koeman at Barça. And as he himself would say, "and nothing else."

Koeman is the first coach in a long time who admits that the club's financial situation is "very, very, very, complicated" with less than a month in charge. Koeman has been the first coach to say, "Messi has to follow the evolution of the team." Koeman, in short, is the first coach to rediscover the hope in Barça fans. Not only does he want to win, he wants to win well. Not only does he want to deliver, he wants the fans to get excited about his side. What Koeman represents as a club icon, is the hope to deliver. For the culé, Koeman is his goal against ex-Sampdoria shot-stopper Pagliuca at Wembley.

The former Barcelona defender made almost no fuss of having the best player in the world on his team. "Messi will find his place in the evolution of the team," he said on August 24, well aware that the Argentine was going to announce that he wanted to leave.

Fati to the fore

At this point, Messi, isolated from his bodyguards (Suárez and Vidal), has decided to believe the words of a coach who has been key to the revival of Jordi Alba and Busquets. The former Dutch national team coach has club legend Gerard Piqué on board, Coutinho looking more confident, after struggling to make an impact since joining from Liverpool for €120 million, and one of the hottest prospects in world football, Ansu Fati, playing breathtaking football like a kid in the park.

Barcelona - winning with 10 men

Barça have won their opening two games with seven goals for and zero against. The Blaugrana know how to play with ten men, in a basic 4-4-1 formation after Clement Lenglet received his marching orders in the 42nd minute. The key was not the positioning of the players but the will to press. Koeman has rediscovered the culture of work ethic and effort, the discipline that Barça had long lost. Barça, indeed, are once again looking like a team.