Barcelona welcomed Eibar to Camp Nou on Tuesday evening live to the possibility of ascending to third place in La Liga should they record a victory.
Sevilla beat Villarreal 2-0 at the Sanchez-Pizjuan earlier in the evening, leapfrogging their opponents in the process and paving the way for the Blaugrana to prove their comeback isn’t simply another false dawn.
They couldn’t. Eibar were good value for their point, drawing 1-1 against a Lionel Messi-less Barcelona, with the Argentine sitting in the stands due to a knee injury.
Speaking after the game in comments carried by Marca, Ronald Koeman admitted that a realistic title challenge has become a rather challenging proposition.
“If I’m being realistic, winning La Liga will be very complicated,” he said. “Nothing is impossible, but you have to recognise the distance. Atletico [Madrid] seems to me to be very good, very strong. They don’t concede many goals.
“We deserved to win, we did what we had to do. They had only one shot on goal. We created chances but we didn’t score the penalty and we made defensive mistakes.
“We did well, worked hard and did enough to win, but we didn’t. This is happening a lot. In the first half-half, we had problems getting the ball from behind and we weren’t looking for people between the lines, maybe out of fear of playing higher. We played a match with many opportunities but didn’t make them concrete.
“I don’t want to say we lacked experienced players. The team is in transition, and there are also injuries. Today there was five or six youngsters in the team but there was also a lot of experience.
“We lacked Leo, who is the difference maker, but the feeling is we don’t understand how it’s possible we didn’t win. We created many opportunities, missed a penalty and gave away the goal, which was their only shot on goal.”