After a frustrating draw with Athletic Club, Barcelona were again left to rue the impact Lionel Messi’s exit has taken on them.
Ronald Koeman has admitted Lionel Messi’s exit has cost Barcelona a major psychological edge as their opponents aren’t so afraid of them anymore.
In only their second La Liga game of the post-Messi era, Barcelona drew 1-1 at Athletic Club on Saturday. Inigo Martinez’s header put the hosts in front at the San Mames. But a ferocious strike from Memphis Depay spared a 10-man Blaugrana – who had Eric Garcia sent off in injury time – a point.
“I don’t like to always talk about the same thing, but we’re talking about the best in the world,” said Barcelona manager Koeman as per Goal.
“Our opponents were more scared when Messi was here. For us as well, if you pass the ball to Leo, usually he won’t lose it. You can tell [Messi] isn’t there. We know that and we can’t change it.”
Barcelona have temporarily at least moved top of La Liga. That could change on Sunday, though, as Real Madrid will visit Levante. Sevilla and reigning champions Atletico Madrid are still to play their second fixtures as well.
Messi, on the other hand, could make his Paris Saint-Germain debut next Sunday at Reims following his free transfer from Camp Nou.