Football

Ronald Koeman hints at departure from Barcelona blueprint

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said his team could play a different style of football to what the club's fans are used to this season after an underwhelming 3-1 win over Gimnastic de Tarragona in a pre-season friendly yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Dutchman lined up with a 4-2-3-1 system with two holding midfielders, a shape rarely used by Barca coaches in the past. He started Sergio Busquets and Carles Alena in the middle in the first half and then Frenkie de Jong and Riqui Puig, as he changed his entire team after half-time.

"It's perhaps a little different and more defensive to what we have seen in the last few years," Koeman told the club's official television channel.

"But the aim is to move the ball, hold on to it and create space to play between the lines, behind the opponents' midfielders. I think this team is capable of doing this because we have midfielders who are able to play in that way."

Barca play Girona on Thursday morning in another friendly and are in talks to face Elche in a final pre-season tie before beginning their campaign at home to Villarreal on Sept 27. - REUTERS

Football