How Ronald Koeman humiliated Gerard Pique in Lisbon

At a time when Camp Nou has been crying out for an

idol, Gerard Pique seemed a strong candidate, but

not for Ronald Koeman.

The Barcelona defender started against Benfica in

Lisbon, but with the team going down to a goal from

Darwin Nunez after three minutes, the coach wanted

to make changes.

On 30 minutes, Koeman subbed off 34-year-

old Pique to replace him with 17-year-old Gavi, a

young midfielder half his age.

It wasn’t due to injury and it wasn’t due to a change in

system either, as Frenkie de Jong was dropped back

into the three-man defence.

Koeman‘s supporters argued that the veteran was

running a risk as he picked up a yellow card just 12

minutes into the tie and Benfica were looking to

target him.

Whatever the motivation, it served to humiliate Pique,

one of the team’s undisputed leaders both on and off

the field of play.

Finding consistency

It comes as Pique had completed 90 minutes three

times in the past two weeks, as Barcelona kept clean

sheets against Cadiz and Levante after defeat

to Bayern Munich.

Early on in the season, a calf strain had kept the

defender out of the win over Getafe and forced him

off early on against Athletic Club.

Hero for fans

In the absence of Lionel Messi following his

departure to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, Pique‘s willingness to reduce his salary and

sign a new contract earned him plaudits.

Announced on the eve of the season starting, and

then as he scored the team’s first goal of the season

against Real Sociedad, Pique was a popular figure.

Lining up in an inexperienced defence, often

alongside teenager Eric Garcia or youngster Ronald

Araujo, Pique‘s role has been pivotal.

The defence didn’t improve

Even after Pique was withdrawn, the defence did not

improve and Eric Garcia was eventually dismissed

with a red card, his second of the season.

Barcelona also conceded two more goals, without

threatening at the other end of the pitch in a new low

for the club.

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