Pressure has piled up on Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman after the club made their worst-ever start to a Champions League campaign with a 3-0 defeat at Benfica.
Barcelona were behind after just three minutes in Portugal, when Darwin Nunez scored at the near post.
He then added a penalty with 11 minutes to play, after Rafa Silva’s second-half strike, to match the scoreline by which Barca lost to Bayern Munich in their opening Group E fixture.
To compound Barcelona’s night to forget, Eric Garcia was sent off late on.
The Catalans are already five points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid domestically and now face an uphill struggle. If they do not qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, it will be for the first time since 2003/04.
Koeman: No point comparing us with past Barca teams
Speaking after the match, Koeman said the players were still behind him but added that he did not know if the board felt the same after the Benfica game.
“As I’ve said just the other day, regarding my future I can’t say anything,” Koeman said. “Because I don’t know what the club is thinking in this respect, and I don’t want to answer any more questions on this because it is not in my hands. We’ll see.
“In the end the culprits [in defeat] are the coaches. But I think in many phases during the game we implemented our plan very well because we were superior to them. From 2-0 we had problems.
“But we had opportunities to score two goals in the game. We were not inferior except in effectiveness in the game.”
Koeman added there was “no point” comparing his Barcelona team to those from the past, and says he has the confidence of the dressing room.
“There’s no point in comparing this with Barcelona teams of years gone by. That’s as clear as water. I can only give you my opinion of my work at the club – I feel backed by my players and their attitude.
“Where you have to win is with the players that we have, by playing our way. To have the ball and create opportunities and this we did. But if you don’t score, you don’t win the game.
“I understand that you see the final result and I accept it. When you win a game everything is calm and now we have lost a game so the future of the coach in this world [is in doubt] – you have to accept that and if you don’t then it’s better to leave.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta backed Koeman last week but said the board would not shirk tough decisions if they needed to be made.
Barca’s sorry stats
- Barcelona have lost their first two matches in a UEFA European campaign for the first time since the 1972-73 UEFA Cup, when they lost both legs to FC Porto and were eliminated.
- Despite only taking charge of eight Champions League group stage matches as Barcelona manager, only Louis van Gaal (5 in 32 games) has lost more such matches with Barca than Ronald Koeman (3 in 8 games).
- Barcelona have lost four of their last five Champions League matches (D1), as many as they lost in their previous 39 matches (W25 D10 L4).
- Only one team has ever reached the Champions League knockout stages after losing their first two group stage matches with a goal difference of -6 or worse, as Barcelona have this season – Lyon in 2007-08, who reached the last 16.
Bayern thrash Dynamo Kiev
Meanwhile, Group E leaders Bayern Munich were a class apart as they hammered Dynamo Kiev 5-0 at the Allianz Arena, with Robert Lewandowski adding two more to his tally for the season. The Poland striker now has already scored 13 goals in nine games this term.
Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting also got on the scoresheet as Bayern cruised to a victory which moves them two points clear at the top of the pool and underlines their status as a major contender for the crown.
English sides playing catch-up
Atalanta moved top of Group F with a 1-0 win over Young Boys, with Matteo Pessina hitting the net for the hosts, who had limited their Swiss visitors to just three shots at goal during the game.
Young Boys are now level with Manchester United, one point behind the Italian side, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-gasp heroics grabbed them victory over Villarreal.
Chelsea also have ground to make up after their defeat to Group H leaders Juventus.
Also in that group, Zenit St Petersburg – who are now level on three points with Chelsea – racked up a club-record win in the Champions League by smashing four past Malmo, whose cause wasn’t helped by Anel Ahmedhodzic’s 58th-minute red card.
In Group G, Salzburg’s Karim Adeyemi became the youngest player to score two penalties in a single Champions League match, as the 19-year-old helped his club to a 2-1 win at home to Lille, who responded via Burak Yilmaz.
And Ivan Rakitic penalty grabbed Sevilla a late equaliser as they drew 1-1 at Wolfsburg in the group’s other game. The Croatian coolly converted after Wolfsburg’s Josuha Guilavogui was sent off with five minutes remaining.