The running statistics which show Barça's problems in the Champions League

No one ran less than the Catalans in this week's European matches

Sigue el gafe del uruguayo lejos del Camp Nou en Champions | MEDIAPRO

Running is for cowards? For Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Ajax, three teams with a similar profile to FC Barcelona, that does not seem so. According to UEFA's statistics for this week's Champions League fixtures, they had not only ran more than Ernesto Valverde's side, but also more than their opposition on the pitch. 

Juan Manuel Díaz

@JuanmaDiaz65

Despite beating Slavia Prague, Barça's performance on the pitch was poor, leaving a bittersweet impression. They created chances and took enough to win 2-1, but also gave up a lot and were in debt to Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who made seven saves. 

The German opened the debate after the game at the Eden Arena, admitting that things weren't good enough and the players needed to talk about things to improve. 

BETTERED PHYSICALLY 

Maybe Ter Stegen didn't like that his teammates ran 15km less than Slavia (115.2km vs. 100.4km) and won the ball back six fewer times (52 vs. 46). They're statistics which follow the trend from the games against Borussia Dortmund and Inter, when they were also reliant on their goalkeeper at times. 

A QUESTION OF STYLE?

You could suggest that Barça's style, based on possession and touch, means other areas of the game require less physical effort. An immediate reply would be to look back to the two Trebles (2009 and 2015) when they applied a similar style in basic terms, albeit with nuances from the coaches, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique. 

In any case, it's impossible to compare the current Barça with teams from a decade ago. It seems fairer to look at the trends across Europe among those with a similar style. It wouldn't be appropriate to look at Juventus or Liverpool, two teams with a very different ethos, though. 

SIMILAR PROFILES  

The problem is Barça don't come out well when compared with Manchester City, Bayern Munich or Ajax Amsterdam, either. They all have similar statistics to the Catalans in terms of possession, passing and chance creation, even bettering their goal production, but they also work harder: they run more kilometres and they win back more balls. 

In three games, Barça have run an average of 103.1km per game, while Manchester City (111.8km), Ajax (111.2) and Bayern (114.3) are working much harder. There's no doubt that running if for cowards, as Charly Rexach said, and that the ball should run more than the players, as Johan Cruyff stated. But his most true disciples are aware that, in the modern game, you need more than just touch and talent. 

This week, Barça ran less than any other team in Europe, according to UEFA's data:

  1. Bayer Leverkusen 121.1km
  2. Leipizig 117.5
  3. Atlético Madrid 117.2
  4. Slavia Praga 115.2
  5. Bayern 114.3
  6. LOSC 114.2
  7. Inter 113
  8. Zenit 112.7
  9. Benfica 112.6
  10. Atalanta 112.6
  11. Tottenham 112.4
  12. Red Star 112.4
  13. Salzburg 112.2
  14. Olympiacos 111.9
  15. Liverpool 110.8
  16. Lyon 110.6
  17. Ajax 110.2
  18. Juventus 110
  19. M. City 110.6
  20. Genk 109.1
  21. Valencia 108.7
  22. Dortmund 108.3
  23. Galatasaray 107.7
  24. Real Madrid 107.4
  25. Lokomotiv 107.3
  26. Dinamo Zagreb 106
  27. Shakthar 105.9
  28. Chelsea 105.4
  29. PSG 104.5
  30. Napoli 103.5
  31. Club Brugge 102.6
  32. Barça 100.4 

FC BARCELONA sTATS 

GAME.3 SLAVIA - BARÇA (1-2)

46 % POSSESSION 54
115,2 KM RAN 100,4
52 BALLS RECOVERED 46
8/23 SHOTS ON TARGET/TOTAL SHOTS 7/13
393/481 PASSES COMPLETED/TOTAL PASSES 449/525
82 % PASSES COMPLETED 86

GAME.2 BARÇA - INTER (2-1)

63 % POSSESSION 37
104,6 KM RAN 114,9
45 BALLS RECOVERED 41
7/17 SHOTS ON TARGET/TOTAL SHOTS 3/11
722/795 PASSES COMPLETED/TOTAL PASSES 369/433
91% % PASSES COMPLETED 85

GAME.1 DORTMUND - BARÇA (0-0)

39 % POSSESSION 61
107,4 KM RAN 104,2
53 BALLS RECOVERED 42
4/14 SHOTS ON TARGET/TOTAL SHOTS 1/7
411/476 PASSES COMPLETED/TOTAL PASSES 602/671
86 % PASSES COMPLETED 90

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