Barjuan gets 1st and possibly only chance to lead Barcelona

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Sergi Barjuan will have his first chance to lead Barcelona from the Camp Nou canoe when he hosts Alavés on Saturday.

It may also be his last chance.

The reserve team coach has been promoted to interim first team coach following the dismissal of Ronald Koeman. Barjuan inherited a side that occupy ninth place in the Spanish league, after consecutive defeats to Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid, and which have struggled to score since the departure of Lionel Messi.

It could have been an opportunity to rest the players and take another three points against a modest rival like Alavés. Now it has become a game of great importance, Barjuan said on Friday.

“I have very little time to work and I’m coming at a difficult time… but I want to bring some joy back to our game,” said Barjuan, who played under Johan Cruyff as a full-back. left of Barcelona from 1993 to 2002.

“The league is always wide open and we can’t lose any more points, especially at home.”

In addition to the game against Alavés, Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said Barjuan could possibly be in charge of next week’s Champions League game at Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine. Barcelona need to win this game to increase their chances of avoiding elimination from the group stage for the first time in two decades.

Laporta said the club would not be rushed in their search for a manager amid reports that former player Xavi Hernández is their preferred candidate.

The only thing going for Barcelona right now is that most rivals are not taking full advantage of the dismal results that have cost Koeman his job.

Real Sociedad were the only top team to win the final round in matches played in midweek.

Sweden striker Alexander Isak has taken over scoring duties for Sociedad while injured top scorer Mikel Oyarzabal recovers. Isak scored in a 2-2 draw at Atlético Madrid last weekend before scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Thursday, helping Sociedad to three points behind ‘advance ahead of Real Madrid, Sevilla and Real Betis. .

Sociedad have not lost in 13 games in all competitions since losing in their first game of the season. He faces Sunday a still hotly contested Basque Country derby with Athletic Bilbao visiting San Sebastián.

Madrid travel to Elche on Saturday after being held in check by Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side have achieved just one victory in their last four league games, a poor run that has kept Barcelona within striking distance just six points behind Madrid.

“We have to work on our attack,” Ancelotti said on Friday. “We had chances to score against Sheriff (when Madrid lost 2-1 in the Champions League) and Osasuna, but we need to finish better, work on our positioning and have more players near the penalty spot when we place crosses . “

Atlético will be without Diego Simeone for his home game against in-form Betis on Sunday after the Argentina coach was sent off with two yellow cards for complaining in a 2-2 draw at Levante.

After strengthening their league squad with Antoine Griezmann and other players, Atlético had the perfect opportunity to get off to a good start in their attempt to repeat as league champions for the first time since taking over. won two consecutive titles in 1950 and ’51. Instead, he sits in sixth place five points off pace and tied with Rayo and Osasuna, the two surprises of the season.

Osasuna broke their record of four wins and a draw against Sevilla on Saturday.

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