The Blaugrana have been fluffing their lines from 12 yards on a regular basis, with the absence of an Argentine superstar hitting them hard
Lionel Messi is presenting Barcelona with a penalty poser, with Ronald Koeman admitting that he needs another reliable option from 12 yards after seeing seven spot-kicks spurned this season.
Failings from 12 yards almost cost the Blaugrana dear in their last outing, as two opportunities were passed up before edging out Cornella 2-0 in the Copa del Rey.
Barca did go to a shootout in a Super Cup semi-final clash against Real Sociedad, with Koeman’s men just about holding their nerve in that contest to prevail 3-2.
A fluffing of lines has, however, become an all too common occurrence this season, with Messi, Ousmane Dembele, Martin Braithwaite, Antoine Griezmann and Miralem Pjanic all failing from the spot.
Talismanic captain Messi has converted five of his six efforts, making him the go-to option for the Liga heavyweights, but he has been handed regular rests in 2020-21.
Koeman concedes that he has issues to address there, with the Dutchman telling reporters ahead of a meeting with Elche on Sunday that his skipper will miss through suspension: “If we look at the penalties, we’ve taken 12 this season and missed seven if we include the Supercopa shootout. That’s a lot, too much.
“If Lionel Messi isn’t there, who is our number one taker, then we need someone else to take them.
“We can’t accept the situation, something must change.
“We’ll decide [Sunday’s penalty taker] in the pre-match talk. We’ll pick two players, but the final decision will be in the hands of the captain.”
Barca let one potential penalty-taking option slip their net in the summer of 2020, with prolific Uruguayan frontman Luis Suarez allowed to leave Camp Nou for Atletico Madrid.
The South American has been thriving in the Spanish capital, helping Diego Simeone’s side to the top of the table, but Koeman maintains that he has no regrets at letting La Liga’s joint-top scorer move on – with the 33-year-old hitting a match-winning double on his last outing against Eibar.
He said after being quizzed on Suarez once again: “I don’t like to answer these questions.
“He’s a great player, but we took the decision that we took. If you ask me every time he scores…”