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Benfica 3 Barcelona 0: Barca staring at Europa League as crisis club thrashed again with Pique subbed off in first half

GERARD PIQUE was subbed after just 32 minutes as Barcelona were thrashed 3-0 by Benfica in Lisbon on Wednesday evening. Manager Ronald Koeman’s decision appeared to be tactical as the uninjured defender was replaced by a midfielder HALF his age. Barca made a dreadful start to the Champions League fixture, with forward Darwin Nunez giving […] ...

GERARD PIQUE was subbed after just 32 minutes as Barcelona were thrashed 3-0 by Benfica in Lisbon on Wednesday evening.

Manager Ronald Koeman’s decision appeared to be tactical as the uninjured defender was replaced by a midfielder HALF his age.

AFP

Gerard Pique was hauled off after just 32 minutes against Benfica[/caption]

Getty

The iconic defender seemed devastated with Ronald Koeman’s decision[/caption]

Barca made a dreadful start to the Champions League fixture, with forward Darwin Nunez giving Benfica a 1-0 lead in the third minute.

Pique, 34, was booked shortly after and was fortunate not to receive a second yellow from referee Daniele Orsato in the 30th minute.

Koeman, perhaps sensing a red was coming, hauled the legendary centre-back off moments later and decided to switch to a back four.

Pique was replaced by Gavi, 17, who was born just two months before the defender made his senior debut for Manchester United in October 2004.

Koeman’s decision didn’t make much of a difference as Rafa Silva doubled Benfica’s lead in the second half before Nunez got his second.

To make matters worse, new signing Luuk de Jong missed an open goal and ex-Manchester City defender Eric Garcia was sent off late on.


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Fans called for Koeman to be sacked after another disappointing result, with one tweeting: “Seriously, it’s not working with Koeman.”

The Dutch coach is under huge pressure after an uninspiring start to the season, picking up 12 points from their first six LaLiga games.

Barca have also looked out of their depth in Europe, losing 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich in their Champions League opener.

Speaking after the match, Koeman said: “I feel supported, very supported by my players here at Barcelona. And by the club? I don’t know.”

Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong added: “In my opinion the solution is not to change the coach.”

PASSED HIS PIQ

Pique, meanwhile, appears to be on the decline after enjoying more than a decade of success at the Nou Camp.

The four-time Champions League winner hasn’t appeared in the world, European or LaLiga Team of the Season for FIVE years.

Pique was recently deployed as a STRIKER by Koeman in Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with LaLiga rivals Granada.

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