Football: Barca didn't have players for tiki-taka game, Koeman says after Granada draw

Coach Ronald Koeman has come under scrutiny in the wake of the team's mediocre results. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

(REUTERS) - Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman defended his team's style of play in Monday's (Sept 20) 1-1 La Liga draw with Granada, saying his depleted side did not have the players who could execute their trademark tiki-taka passing game.

Ronald Araujo's last-minute header rescued a point for Barcelona as they limped to their second draw in four games, which left them in seventh place on eight points, five behind leaders Real Madrid who have played a game more.

The Dutchman said his team, who were without a host of players due to injuries, could not play their short passing game because they failed to find space.

"We had to sacrifice our style of play a little bit to try and get the result, by putting crosses in rather than playing down the middle," he told reporters. "If you look at the squad list for the game, it's the only thing we could do.

"We can't play tiki-taka if there aren't any spaces. So that means we have to try and find another way to play. For me that's what has to be talked about, the fact that we tried everything to get a point.

"We know it's maybe not Barcelona's football, but this Barcelona is not that of eight years ago."

Koeman has come under scrutiny in the wake of the team's mediocre results, leading to speculation over his future at the Catalan club.

"I'm not going to talk about my future any more," the 58-year-old added.

"We're unhappy because we want to win games, especially at home, but as I explained, the game was complicated and I think we gave our all on the pitch."

With only 27,000 out of a possible 40,000 fans inside the ground, those in attendance were stunned into silence after 85 seconds as Domingos Duarte rose at the back post to head in Sergio Escudero's centre.

Sergi Roberto struck the post with a volley midway through the first half as Barca huffed and puffed to get back into the game.

Araujo forced Luis Maximiano into a full-length stop on the stroke of half-time as the Catalans resorted to hoofing the ball into the box, racking up 54 crosses in total during the 90 minutes.

Koeman introduced striker Luuk de Jong at the break to act as target man and he was joined up top by centre-half Gerard Pique 15 minutes from time as the hosts grew increasingly desperate.

De Jong somehow contrived to miss from close range as it appeared it was going to be another frustrating night for Barca.

However, Araujo's header rescued a point in the final minute of normal time from 17-year-old substitute Gavi's cross.

"They (Granada) wasted time from as soon as they scored," bemoaned Koeman. "There wasn't a lot of space to play short, delicate balls as they defended with every man back.

"There was space on the wings to cross, and we had tall players in there and that's what we did. At least we managed to get a draw, even if we have dropped two points."

Granada, meanwhile, remain without a win and are in 17th spot on three points from five matches.

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