Koeman has 10 days to persuade Barcelona he is the right man
Barcelona are eight points adrift in LaLiga and face shoot-outs with Sevilla and PSG in the cup competitions as Koeman auditions ahead of the elections.
Ronald Koeman faces a run of games in the next two weeks that will define his first season at Barcelona and, quite possibly, go some way to determining whether the Dutchman will be afforded another at Camp Nou. Beaten 4-1 by PSG in the Champions League, dropping more points in LaLiga at the weekend against Cádiz and needing to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey has left Koeman with zero room for maneuver on all fronts.
Barcelona facing defining run of fixtures
Barcelona are eight points behind Atlético Madrid and five adrift of Real Madrid but have the possibility to close the gap on second when they welcome Elche to Camp Nou on Wednesday. Diego Simeone’s side still have a game in hand but drawing to within two points of Madrid will provide a much-needed shot in the arm for Koeman after the Barça boss was left frustrated again after Cádiz snatched a late draw at the weekend. After the rescheduled game against Elche, Barça travel to the Sánchez Pizjuán again where another negative result will set them back again in the title race.
The same opposition stand between Koeman and the Copa, which Barça have dominated in recent years with five titles in the past decade. Sevilla’s 2-0 advantage leaves Koeman’s side needing a perfect performance on 3 March against Julen Lopetegui’s high-flyers, who are also pushing the perennial top three for a slice of the Liga title stakes.
In Europe, Barcelona have a mountain to climb after Kylian Mbappé inspired PSG to a 4-1 victory in the opening leg of the last-16 clash between the clubs. Making up a three-goal deficit away from home may be beyond Barça – despite the extraordinary 6-1 reverse by Luis Enrique’s side against the same opposition in 2016-17 – but more damaging for Koeman would be going out by a crushing aggregate scoreline.
Presidential candidates cool on Koeman
Koeman’s position at Camp Nou is far from secure. Of the presidential candidates only Toni Freixa has guaranteed the Dutchman’s job beyond the end of the season. The eventual successor to Josep Maria Bartomeu will be decided on 7 March, meaning the new president’s first game will be the return leg against PSG at the Parc des Princes on 10 March – hardly the ideal stage for Koeman to try and make his case and less so if Barça are already out of the domestic cup competition by then.
Joan Laporta, the favourite for the job, has only said he will base a decision on the managerial role on “the team’s performances and results” while Víctor Font has promised Barcelona fans Xavi Hernández in the dug-out if he is elected.
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