Barcelona title challenge 'very difficult', concedes Koeman after Eibar draw

By Sports Desk December 29, 2020

Ronald Koeman concedes it will be "very difficult" for his Barcelona side to challenge Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid for the LaLiga title this season. 

Barca were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Eibar at Camp Nou on Tuesday, Ousmane Dembele salvaging a point for the hosts after Kike Garcia had put Jose Luis Mendilibar's side ahead. 

Martin Braithwaite had earlier missed a penalty for Barca – his fourth consecutive failure from the spot – as Koeman's men dropped points for the eighth time in 15 LaLiga games this season. 

The result left them seven points behind the Madrid clubs despite having played two games more than leaders Atleti, and Koeman acknowledged a title tilt is now unlikely. 

"You have to be realistic and admit that it will be very complicated," he said. 

"In life nothing is impossible, but now there is a big difference in points with the leader, Atletico, who are doing very well, winning almost all their games and conceding very few goals. It's going to be very difficult."

Barca were without talisman Lionel Messi, who had been given extra time to recover from an ankle injury. 

Since his debut in October 2004, the Catalan giants have won just 55.9 per cent of their LaLiga games without him (W66 D39 L22), compared to 73.7 per cent with him in the side (W368 D83 L48).

While admitting they missed the Argentine superstar's creativity and goal threat, Koeman believed his side created enough chances to claim all three points. 

"In the first half we had problems getting the ball from behind," he added. "We did not look for a game between the lines and I do not know why, but we have had opportunities again.

"I don't want to say that we lacked experienced players. There is a transition in the team, there are injuries and we play with many young people.

"But today there was a lot of experience in the team and, yes, we were missing Leo who makes a difference. But the feeling we have is that it was possible to have won because we have created enough chances."

Barca are next in action against bottom side Huesca on Sunday. 

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