'What do you do? Play tiki-taki?' Koeman defends Barca's direct approach against Granada

Barcelona ended the match with two defenders being used as emergency strikers with Araujo heading in late equaliser

Ronald Koeman defended his decision to forsake Barcelona's attacking traditions and play more directly in the 1-1 draw at home to Granada on Monday - a match in which defender Gerard Pique was brought on as an emergency striker.

Koeman brought Pique, one of the club's most decorated and accomplished centre-backs, off the bench at Camp Nou to play up front alongside Luuk de Jong, with Ronald Araujo, another central defender, also thrown into the attack as Barca sent in 54 crosses in search of an equaliser.

Uruguay international Araujo finally headed home in injury-time after Domingos Duarte had given Granada an early lead but the boos and whistles at the final whistle from disgruntled Barcelona fans showed they were far from impressed with the point or how it was earned.

"We changed our style a little bit," Koeman said. "The spaces were out wide, not in the middle. We went with Pique, De Jong and Araujo and from one of those crosses we got the draw."

Koeman's position was already fragile after last week's 3-0 drubbing at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, a game in which his team failed to muster a shot on target.

The Dutchman, a stylish goalscoring defender during his playing days, knows only too well the expectations to adhere to Barca's passing principles having played almost 200 games for the club and been part of the club's 1992 'Dream Team' that lifted the European Cup.

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Barca are suffering an injury crisis and were unable to call on Ousmane Dembele, Martin Braithwaite, Pedri, Jordi Alba, Sergio Aguero and Ansu Fati for Monday's match.

The Catalans fielded a team featuring two 18-year-olds including a debut for defender Alejandro Balde before the youngster was replaced just before half time with a back complaint while 17-year-old midfielder Gavi was introduced off the bench as they chased an equaliser.

After the latest disappointment against lowly Granada, it was put to him that supporters were even angrier about Barcelona's style than the result.

"If you see the list of players, what do you do? Play tiki-taki? Tiki-taki when there are no spaces?" said Koeman.

"We did what we had to do. We tried to win another way. We don't have players one-on-one or with speed. We're talking ... I'm not going to say more because it seems I have to argue about everything."

Updated: September 21st 2021, 5:35 AM
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