How Ronald Koeman humiliated Gerard Pique in Lisbon

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At a time when Camp Nou has been crying out for an idol, Gerard Pique seemed a strong candidate, but not for Ronald Koeman.

The Barcelona defender started against Benfica in Lisbon, but with the team going down to a goal from Darwin Nunez after three minutes, the coach wanted to make changes.

On 30 minutes, Koeman subbed off 34-year-old Pique to replace him with 17-year-old Gavi, a young midfielder half his age.

It wasn’t due to injury and it wasn’t due to a change in system either, as Frenkie de Jong was dropped back into the three-man defence.

Koeman‘s supporters argued that the veteran was running a risk as he picked up a yellow card just 12 minutes into the tie and Benfica were looking to target him.

Whatever the motivation, it served to humiliate Pique, one of the team’s undisputed leaders both on and off the field of play.

Finding consistency

It comes as Pique had completed 90 minutes three times in the past two weeks, as Barcelona kept clean sheets against Cadiz and Levante after defeat to Bayern Munich.

Early on in the season, a calf strain had kept the defender out of the win over Getafe and forced him off early on against Athletic Club.

Hero for fans

In the absence of Lionel Messi following his departure to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, Pique‘s willingness to reduce his salary and sign a new contract earned him plaudits.

Announced on the eve of the season starting, and then as he scored the team’s first goal of the season against Real Sociedad, Pique was a popular figure.

Lining up in an inexperienced defence, often alongside teenager Eric Garcia or youngster Ronald Araujo, Pique‘s role has been pivotal.

The defence didn’t improve

Even after Pique was withdrawn, the defence did not improve and Eric Garcia was eventually dismissed with a red card, his second of the season.

Barcelona also conceded two more goals, without threatening at the other end of the pitch in a new low for the club.

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