Koeman whacks team for ‘gigantic step back’

Koeman whacks team for ‘gigantic step back’

MADRID • Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman lambasted his players for conceding a farcical goal in a 2-1 defeat by promoted Cadiz on Saturday, criticising their attitude after they slipped 12 points behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Alvaro Negredo struck the winner after a series of surreal mistakes from the visitors.

Jordi Alba’s bungled throw-in flummoxed Clement Lenglet and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen kicked the loose ball against Negredo, who gleefully tapped home.

“We lost because of an incredible error, that is not the level I expect from my team,” Koeman told Catalan network TV3 after Barca’s fourth defeat in 10 league games.

“It shows we were not concentrating. The attitude was not good tonight. I’m very disappointed and we have to improve.”

Cadiz had not beaten Barca since 1991 but the hosts took an early lead thanks to more inept defending following a corner.

The inexperienced Oscar Mingueza, playing only his second league game for Barca owing to injuries, nearly headed into his own net and the panic that ensued allowed Alvaro Gimenez to pounce.

Koeman’s men equalised in the second half through an own goal by Pedro Alcala only to fall behind again for good soon after.

The comedy of errors which led to Cadiz’s winner was the third consecutive away game during which Barca have made unforced mistakes and failed to win, leaving the Dutchman a frustrated figure on the touchline.

“It’s very difficult to explain the goals we are conceding lately,” he said. “We also lacked aggression when we didn’t have the ball today. We had highs and lows during the game and also in our attitude.”

Barca lost last season’s title to Real Madrid on the penultimate day of the campaign but are now floundering in the title race with little more than a quarter of the season played. “It’s a gigantic step back for our chances of fighting for the title,” Koeman added.

Earlier, Real defeated Sevilla 1-0 away to record their first win in La Liga since October, easing the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane as they moved up to third.