Guillem Balague: Luis Enrique's decisions cost Barcelona at Deportivo
Last Updated: 13/03/17 11:52pm
Luis Enrique's decisions cost Barcelona as they were beaten by Deportivo La Coruna 2-1 in La Liga on Sunday, says Guillem Balague.
The Barcelona coach made several changes, including leaving out Neymar, as his side suffered a shock defeat and lost top spot to Real Madrid.
In his latest column, the Sky Sports Spanish football expert offers his take on Barcelona's latest setback, Sergio Ramos scoring another winner for Real Madrid and Sevilla's struggles ahead of their Champions League trip to Leicester.
He also answers your Twitter questions, including which Premier League goalkeeper Real Madrid may be targeting this summer...
Luis Enrique costs Barca
It was another weekend that proves the Spanish league is a lot more competitive than people think! Having come from that win against PSG, Barcelona couldn't find a way to beat Deportivo.
It was interesting to hear Luis Enrique say that he knew it was going to be a difficult day from the beginning. He insisted on four changes to refresh the side, but the team didn't have the fluidity.
Why? There were two reasons in my eyes.
Firstly, Carles Gil did a very good job in stopping Sergio Busquets in midfield, which is a crucial role in Luis Enrique's 3-4-3 formation. And secondly, Deportivo surrounded Lionel Messi with a lot of players, and without Neymar it was easier to keep him out of the game.
The 3-4-3 works as a funnel and accumulates a lot of players in the middle, and Barcelona didn't have specialist wingers to stretch the game as Luis Enrique started Arda Turan and Denis Suarez out wide. So there were a lot of wrong coaching decisions, and a lot of players who performed under their level.
Deportivo were absolutely outstanding though, they grew into the game and realised they could get something out of it, and that's exactly what happened.
Ramos papering over Real cracks
Ramos' winner against Real Betis was his 68th for Real Madrid, putting him ahead of Roberto Carlos as their best-ever goalscoring defender.
But the cracks are there to see in Real's style and the way they play and defend. They do have the quality and their comeback meant they've got 16 points from losing positions this season, but bigger teams will make them pay for their lack of instructions and insufficiently tight setup.
Betis had prepared defensively to try and stop Ramos, just like every team does, but he still managed to find the perfect timing to get his head on the ball and score.
I spoke to Betis after the game and found out the marking changed just before that goal. They had made a substitution just beforehand and the new man who came on was not marking Ramos closely enough, and if you give him a metre he'll take advantage.
Sevilla concerned ahead of Leicester trip
I said after the first leg that Sevilla deserved to go through because they could have scored more, but since then they've started worrying because the dynamics of the tie have changed.
On the one hand Claudio Ranieri had to go because he had betrayed the players who had won him the title.
There were a lot of signings to replace those players, when instead he should have stuck with them to go as far as they could. He also put a second striker next to Jamie Vardy in Islam Slimani, which killed the English forward.
Leicester reverted a little bit to type in the first leg, but not in the way they have done again since Craig Shakespeare took charge, which you can see in the last couple of results.
Sevilla are still a better team than Leicester in my eyes, but they're struggling a little bit physically and mentally at the moment, and that lack of sharpness might just make a difference.
Jorge Sampaoli said they need to be at their best to beat Leicester, so it's set to be an intriguing game.
MUFC_Scatt @Scatt11MUFC - Any truth that Madrid have set a May cut off for an answer from David de Gea? How likely is the move? #AskGuillem
That's not true, but it is true that both David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois' representatives have been contacted by Real Madrid, and they want one of the two. So let's see if they get them.
Connor Parnell @ConnorParnell23 - Who do you think will be the long-term successor to Andres Iniesta for Barcelona? #AskGuillem
Denis Suarez has enough quality, but it's more important to see which coach is going to come in and what type of football Barcelona will play. A new Iniesta may not be needed if they're going for a continuation of the Luis Enrique regime.
But if they're going to go back to a possession game they'll need one. Carlos Alena from the B team looks good, but is still a long way from being a first-team regular, and Marco Verratti is another player they really like.
That's_My_Name @Sandilexx5 - Do you think Enrique was right to rest Neymar against Deportivo? #AskGuillem
I don't think he was, but that's talking in hindsight of course. Perhaps it's Luis Enrique not realising the influence of Neymar, the club says he had an injury but sources close to him say he could have played.
But individual quality is almost more important than the team performance in this Barcelona, and Neymar is at the top of his game at the moment. So perhaps he should have played.
Max Clarke @max_cl7 - Who is the MVP so far for Real Madrid's title chase? I think its Ramos... #AskGuillem
In an offensive sense and with the goals he's got than Ramos for certain. Defensively, though, it might be his worst season for Real in about five or six years, or maybe even ever. He's made a lot of mistakes but is hiding all that with his goals. In fact, Real Madrid has better defensive stats with him out of the team.
Marcelo for me is one of the key players, and he gives them so much in an attacking sense, but really there hasn't been another outstanding performer throughout the whole season.
Connor Parnell @ConnorParnell23 - Do you think Eduardo Berizzo will stay at Celta next season? If not, where could he go to? #AskGuillem
All the work that has been put in signals change at Celta. But the problem is over where he would go. I think he's keeping an eye on Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, but we'll see what happens.
Being a Marcelo Bielsa man he may get a job at Athletic Bilbao, but I think they'll give that to their B team boss José Ángel Ziganda. So I don't know where he could go next, but a lot of moves have been made regarding his future.