The Catalans lost 2-1 in Austria (FC Red Bull Salzburg vs FC Barcelona)
FC Barcelona traveled to Austria to face Salzburg in a friendly game on their pre-season tour that they lost 2-1. The goals came from Luca Sucic and Brendon Aaronson from the home team, and a mistake by Martin Brathwaite from Barcelona that led to a goal. The team’s performance was rather underwhelming and they deserved to lose.
Ronald Koeman started with a 3-5-2 formation as he did in the latter half of last season. He had Dest and Alba as full-backs, with De Jong, Araujo, and Lenglet in defense. Nico, Gavi, and Busquets started in midfield, with Memphis and Greizmann in attack. Koeman got the formation, and the personnel wrong from the start and the team paid for it as the game went on. The back three was not needed at all, since the team has been playing well in a 4-3-3 formation.
Barcelona were not able to play on the front foot at all, since Salzburg gave no room to attack. One of the best chances of the game came in the early stages from a set-piece, a good ball in from Memphis.
The Catalans were sloppy defensively as you can see in the image below. Jordi Alba’s lack of concentration gave the ball away, and Salzburg almost scored. They missed a very close opportunity to put the ball at the back of the net.
Throughout the game, there was a huge space in Barcelona’s back line that Salzburg took advantage of. Every time there was an attack, they came very close to scoring. Their attacks easily ran into pockets of space and were a major threat on goal. There was really poor defensive play from Ronald Koeman’s men. Salzburg kept coming, they clearly wanted it more. They could have been at least three goals up, as they missed a lot of sitters.
Salzburg scored just before the halftime whistle, a rocket into the back of the net. Neto doesn’t even move as he watches the ball get smashed into the top corner. The home team was tired of missing sitters. A 25-30 yard strike from Luca Sucic. One ball from the midfield, in behind the defence on the counter attack, and the shot in front of three defenders and the goalkeeper.
The defence was so exposed throughout the game, that Ronald Araujo was left alone at the back multiple times. The second half was very similar, as there were no changes by Koeman at halftime. Lenglet kept getting exposed, and De Jong also had a hard time tracking back the Salzburg attackers. He didn’t realise there were players making runs off him.
There were some weird decisions made in the substitutions by Ronald Koeman. Samuel Umtiti, Martin Brathwaite, and Sergi Roberto got minutes, the latter as the captain. Yusuf Demir, and Alejandro Balde came so late in the game, who should’ve started. Umtiti and Brathwaite are on the market, and the former has an injury scare, so he shouldn’t have played. The two young players were so impressive, Balde almost scored as well.
Barcelona finally scored from a deflection, a very lucky goal. Dest takes a shot that is saved by the goalkeeper, but it parries off Martin Brathwaite to land up inside the net, getting one back for Barcelona. Brathwaite did not even know about it, and it just happened. But it wasn’t enough as Salzburg scored in the 90th minute to make it 2-1.
There are clearly issues that need to be addressed in the team. Particularly, the team needs a solid backline. It’s unclear whether Oscar Mingueza and Eric Garcia are the answer to that question. But it wouldn’t hurt to get a good defender in place before the window closes. Also, the team needs to stick to the 4-3-3 system as it bodes well for them.