Memphis Depay missed a penalty as Radamel Falcao’s fourth goal of the season sentenced Barcelona to a 1-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday to increase the pressure on coach Ronald Koeman.
Barca remain winless away from Camp Nou this season and sit ninth in LaLiga after 10 matches, four points behind Rayo, who temporarily jumped to fifth with their fifth win in five home games since returning to the top flight in the summer.
Veteran striker Falcao struck the only goal of the game in the 30th minute, turning inside Gerard Pique after Sergio Busquets had given the ball away. Barca were handed a golden chance to earn a point in the 72nd minute when Memphis was brought down in the area, but the Dutchman’s penalty was saved by Stole Dimitrievski.
There was a bright performance from young midfielder Nico Gonzalez, who returned to the side for the first time since being taken off at half-time of Barca’s loss to Atletico Madrid on Oct. 2. Sergio Aguero also came through 90 minutes on his first start for the club and at least showed signs he could be useful this season.
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Barca have not won away from home in any competition all season and haven’t scored on their travels since Memphis’ goal at Athletic Bilbao in August. That is not acceptable for a team of their stature, who should be competing for the title.
Beyond that, there are individual mistakes, such as Busquets’ for the goal, underperforming players, like Pique and Philippe Coutinho here, and a complete lack of ideas. Is there a system in place? Do they work on pressing? On tactics?
Manager rating out of 10
4 — The buck must once again stop with Koeman, even if Busquets’ mistake and Memphis’ missed penalty were not directly his fault. There was a complete lack of creativity in the second half, in terms of his changes and his tactics, and time is ticking on his tenure after just four wins in 10 league games.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 — The German goalkeeper was OK, sweeping up at times and making a couple of routines saves. Could do little about Falcao’s well-taken goal.
DF Sergi Roberto, 6 — Returned to the side at right-back and didn’t do a lot wrong before coming off in the second half.
DF Gerard Pique, 5 — Turned too easily by Falcao for the opening goal and was later booked for a challenge on the Colombia forward. A difficult night for the defender.
DF Eric Garcia, 6 — The former Manchester City centre-back has run into some form in recent games, even if the same can’t be said for Barcelona.
DF Jordi Alba, 6 — Was a threat on the left at times, creating a couple of chances.
MF Sergio Busquets, 5 — Gave away possession in the build-up to Falcao’s goal and held his hands up after the game. “I was sleeping, they picked my pocket and it was completely my mistake,” he admitted.
MF Nico Gonzalez, 7 — Barca’s best player in the first half and involved in some of their best moments after the break, shooting just wide after a great first touch and then driving forward to create a chance for Aguero.
MF Sergino Dest, 6 — Will get grief for missing a first-half chance but was one of the few Barca places showing bravery and running at players as they chased the game.
MF Philippe Coutinho, 4 — Gave the ball away time and again and wasted a good chance from an Alba cross in the second half. Eventually replaced in the 74th minute.
FW Memphis Depay, 5 — Hit the side netting with an early shot and set up a good chance for Dest, before missing a second-half penalty. He has now gone 10 games for his club without scoring from open play, dating back to August.
FW Sergio Aguero, 6 — Did well on his first start. Worked a couple of shooting chances and set up Gavi deep into stoppage time.
FW Yusuf Demir, 5 — Looked timid after coming on in the second half, unwilling to take players on like he did in preseason.
MF Gavi, N/R — The 17-year-old was handed a much-needed rest but came off the bench to miss his side’s last chance of the game after good work from Aguero.
FW Luuk de Jong, N/R — A late introduction as Koeman got desperate. Had a tough chance from distance when goalkeeper Dimitrievski got caught in no man’s land, but could only hit the top of the net.
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