Barcelona missed a goal forward, Ronald Koeman said, as they scored just once from 20 shots on goal in a 1-0 win over Huesca, and called for the club to add a new striker.
After recovering from an ankle injury, Lionel Messi returned to the Barcelona side and Koeman decided to field him in attack alongside Martin Braithwaite and Ousmane Dembele.
The trio attempted 15 shots between them, but Frenkie de Jong scored the decisive goal after 27 minutes, volleying Messi’s chipped pass into the net.
Koeman, who sent Braithwaite to Antoine Griezmann nine minutes from time, acknowledged that he lacked a natural striker to lead the line between Messi and Dembele’s artistic talents.
“I trust each player in our squad,” Koeman told reporters. But there is space for three forwards if we want to have three midfielders.
We bet on someone as deep as Dembele with Leo, and we’ve got to choose between Martin or Antoine at the end, and Martin has done it.
It’s nine that we’re missing in these games, but in terms of Antoine’s replacement, it doesn’t mean anything. We have a lot of games and we need all the teams.
“We have said several times, at the beginning of the season, that we need someone at the top to have more competition and more goals, more effectiveness, but this depends on many things.”
Koeman said he hopes that strengthening his strike options would help reduce the burden on the defense of Barcelona, which absorbed waves of Huesca attacks as the hosts late at El Alcoraz tried an equalizer.
With just seven of their 20 shots at goal, Barcelona was on target and Koeman said they had to close games earlier to prevent nervous late spells.
“The second half was not so brilliant,” Koeman admitted.
“In the end, we suffer a little because they have tried to create and there have been crosses where we have defended well. If you don’t close out the game earlier, you always suffer.”
Looking ahead to clashes with Athletic Club and Granada in La Liga, and a semi-final against Real Sociedad in Supercopa de Espana, Koeman added: “This month is very important to our aspirations because we have a lot of away games and I think we can fight if we win them.”