Barcelona are currently occupying the 2nd position in La Liga behind their arch-rivals Real Madrid who have had a fantastic year so far. They trail Real Madrid by 3 points but Los Blancos have a game in hand due to their participation in the Club World Cup. Under Zinedine Zidane, they have looked a different proposition altogether. It is not to say that they have enthralled us with some electric football throughout the year. But the method adopted by them has made them almost difficult to beat and with the likes of Ronaldo and Bale in their ranks, the goals have come as and when required.
Barcelona have looked fragile in that regard. While MSN are still the best-attacking trio in the world, their defence and midfield have let them down on occasions. It is evident that the margin of error is almost zero now. With Real Madrid potentially starting the year with a 6 points advantage, Barca have all to do.
While the whole of the Barcelona defence has been in shambles recently, the defensive attributes of young Sergi have been called into question multiple numbers of times. It is largely Barca’s ill-judgement wherein they decided against conventionally replacing Dani Alves. Roberto is great going forward but his error-prone and risky style of defending has cost Barcelona heavily twice already.
He has to cut down on his errors along with the rest of the defence including Ter Stegen and Umtiti who have looked extremely vulnerable without Pique and Alba. A right-back should be high on their shopping list.
One of the most important factors in Barcelona’s world domination over the years has been Sergio Busquets’ cool and composed presence in the deep-lying areas. He was a perfect foil to Xavi and Iniesta before taking on the mantle upon himself after Xavi’s retirement.
But he hasn’t been his usual self this season. An overload of international and club matches has probably taken a toll but he is their best bet in the role from where he can dictate play and control the tempo. Andre Gomes has been pushed back at times with Busquets being used in slightly more advanced areas but it is important that Enrique keeps his faith in the Spaniard and plays him in his usual position.
While there are more issues to be sorted yet, Barca should be looking to play to their strengths and the senior players like Busquets and Pique have to step up in deeper areas and bring stability at the back.
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