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Coutinho injury adds to Barca's woes as Catalans record worst La Liga start since 2003

3:53 PM EST 12/29/20
Coutinho Injury Barcelona 2020
The Brazilian left his side reduced to 10 men in the dying minutes of Tuesday's draw when he suffered an apparent knee problem

Barcelona's tribulations in La Liga continued in their final game of 2020 as Philippe Coutinho limped off injured and Eibar ensured the Catalans recorded their worst start to a league campaign for 17 years. 

Lionel Messi was left out of Ronald Koeman's squad on Tuesday and watched from the stands at Camp Nou as the hosts looked to make up lost ground on pace-setters Real and Atletico Madrid. 

But the misfiring Blaugrana found no way past Eibar and were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw that leaves them marooned in sixth place

Martin Braithwaite missed from the penalty spot before Kike Garcia fired the visitors ahead, although Ousmane Dembele was able to level the scores and earn Koeman's charges a share of the points. 

And deep into injury time there was further consternation in the Barca ranks as Coutinho was forced off. 

The Brazilian went down holding his knee after attempting a pass and, despite receiving treatment, played no further part in the match. 

As Barca had already made all five substitutions, including Coutinho, they played the final minutes with 10 men, while serious injury to Coutinho could scupper any chances of finding the playmaker a new club during the January transfer window. 

Barcelona thus ended 2020 on a low note, as once more they failed to click under Koeman. 

A series of adverse results additionally means that the Blaugrana, who have won just seven of their opening 15 La Liga games, are en route to suffer their worst start for almost two decades. 

Not since 2003, under the stewardship of Koeman's old Netherlands team-mate Frank Rijkaard, have Barca failed to win more than half of their opening 15 league fixtures. 

While Messi has been far from his mercurial best in 2020-21, the Argentine's absence continues to be felt. 

Since his debut in 2004 Barca have won 73.7 per cent of their Liga games when Leo has featured; compared to just 55.9% when he has played no part in the match.