Alejandro Balde's attacking edge has been somewhat diluted in recent weeks. The home-grown player is adjusting to a role that is necessary for the team, but which does not allow him to exploit his explosiveness as much. With the square midfield consolidated, Balde is in charge of stretching the team on the left flank. And he does it at the same level as Raphinha: when Barça has the ball he is a winger and when he loses it he has to cover a lot of metres in defence.
Staying fixed on the flank allows players like Joao Félix to move comfortably inside. But doing it so far forward means that he doesn't have as much space to exploit his ability to drive on. Despite his background as a winger, Balde is one of those full-backs who makes more of a difference coming inside than going out. Some of his best moves last season - many still remember his slalom against Madrid - came when he drove the ball from the back through the middle.
Against Mallorca, as with the rest of the team, he did not perform at his best. Balde lacked neatness in his actions and metres in front. He attempted two dribbles (he was successful in one), lost 13 balls and won four of the nine duels.
Balde has a complex role that includes a lot of defensive effort, as he has to cover a lot of metres in the back line. Unlike on the right wing, where Cancelo is supported on the outside by Raphinha, on the left Joao Félix occupies more inside positions. The Portuguese is the one who occupies the left wing when Barça do not have the ball, but when there is a loss in an awkward area Balde has very little time (and a lot of space to run) to accompany the defensive line.
Last season Balde was already being recycled as Xavi consolidated the square midfield, but this season his role as a left winger has been even more emphasised, one of the most demanding positions in the current team structure.