FC Barcelona

Gerard Pique substituted after 30 minutes during Benfica vs Barcelona

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Pique endured a nightmare start
Pique endured a nightmare start / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
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Gerard Pique was hooked off half an hour into Barcelona's Champions League meeting with Benfica, after enduring a nightmare start to the match.

The hosts took the lead inside three minutes when Julian Weigl's chipped pass split the Barça defence with ease. Darwin Nunez raced onto the ball, skinned Eric Garcia and then fired an effort past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make it 1-0.

Barcelona struggled to respond to this early setback with Pique picking up an early yellow card for a poorly-judged and poorly-timed lunge on Roman Yaremchuk. The centre-back never looked comfortable in a back three, misplacing several passes and losing out on two ground duels during his stint on the pitch.

The final straw came in the 30th minute when Pique was again guilty of a poor challenge from behind which probably should have seen him awarded a second yellow card.

Shortly after, under-fire Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman opted to hook Pique off in favour of young midfielder Gavi. The change forced his side into a significant tactical shift with the Blaugrana re-adjusting to a back four.

Pique's being dragged off before the break was the latest flashpoint in a horrific couple of months for Barcelona. Koeman is not expected to last much longer at the club with Xavi and Erik ten Haag both being linked with his job.

90min understands that Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is also an option. Barca are big fans of the Northern Irishman and have been seriously impressed with the success he has had with the Foxes over the past few seasons.


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