With a foot and a half out of the Champions League, 2-0 down in the cup semi and failing to take advantage of golden opportunities in La Liga, that’s how Barcelona have arrived at the decisive stage of the season.
Ronald Koeman’s men are still alive in those competitions but they are all tough asks. They have committed seven capital sins.
- Unforgivable individual errors. Football is a game of errors but this Barcelona are going above and beyond. Lenglet has made many, including in both games against Cadiz. Most players in the squad have, including the more reliable ones like Frenkie de Jong. One of the worst was Pique and Neto against Atletico Madrid. Not even Araujo is free from mistakes.
- Alarming lack of efficiency in front of goal. Barca need to create far too many chances to get goals. They are not in the top 40% of effective teams in La Liga. just look at the Cadiz game, with one goal from 20 shots.
- Set piece failings. Barcelona have had 242 corners this season and only one ended in a goal, Martin Braithwaite scoring against Kiev. The corner was taken by Alena, no longer at the club. The team also had penalty misses from Messi, Griezmann, Braithwaite, Pjanic and Dembele. And only recently has Messi returned to his top level with free kicks. Meanwhile, against Barca, teams are thriving from dead balls. Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Willian José (Real Sociedad), Álvaro Giménez (Cádiz), Diakhaby (Valencia), Villalibre (Athletic), Víctor Ruiz (Betis) and Kean (PSG) have netted from corners or wide free-kicks.
- Struggle against top level teams. The one big victory Barca have had this season came against a struggling Juventus in Turin. And it didn’t even win them the group with Juve beating Barca 3-0 at Camp Nou later. They lost to Real Madrid (3-1), Atletico (1-0), Bilbao (3-2) in the Spanish Super Cup final, Sevilla (2-0) in the Copa semi first leg and PSG (4-1) at home in the Champions League.
- Slip ups against the weak. Some of Barcelona’s worst results have come against the lesser sides too. Defeats by Getafe (1-0) and Cadiz (2-1), draws with Alaves (1-1), Eibar (1-1) and Cadiz again (1-1) have hurt the Catalans.
- Goals keep going in. They have only managed to keep a clean sheet in a third of games, 12 from 36 played. Thy have let in goals in the last eight consecutive games. The last clean sheet Ter Stegen kept was against Elche in january. Rayo Vallecano (1), Athletic (1), Granada (3), Betis (2), Sevilla (2), Alavés (1), PSG (4) and Cádiz (1) have all found the net.
- Can’t hold a lead. Barcelona dropped two points because they were unable to hold on to their advantage. It wasn’t the first time. They lost the Spanish Super Cup after a stoppage time equaliser from Asier Villalibre. Valencia came from behind to draw with Barca too, Madrid did in the Clasico and Cadiz in the first match.
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