Sport The way to improve Barcelona is by strengthening the defense
Street parties celebrate end of Spain's state of emergency
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Impromptu street celebrations erupted across Spain as the clock struck midnight on Saturday, when a six-month-long national state of emergency to contain the spread of coronavirus ended and many nighttime curfews were lifted. In Madrid, police had to usher revelers out of the central Puerta del Sol square, where the scenes of unmasked dancing and group signing esembled pre-pandemic nightlife. Teenagers and young adultsIn Madrid, police had to usher revelers out of the central Puerta del Sol square, where the scenes of unmasked dancing and group signing esembled pre-pandemic nightlife.
Take a look at the team statistics in La Liga and it’s evident where’s strengths and weaknesses are.
With 84 goals in the league, the Catalans have scored 19 more thanand , the next-best attacks. But when it comes to the defense, Barça have conceded 14 more than Atléti, 11 more than Real, and even 5 more than Sevilla. The blaugrana have actually conceded as much as Real Sociedad.
It’s clear that if Barça wants to improve on this year’s league finish, they will have to do it by conceding less, especially at inopportune moments.
Messi beauty among Barcelona goals but defense gut punches title hopes
Messi's goal was his 29th goal of the La Liga season, joining nine assists to give him an astounding goal contribution on 38 of Barcelona's 85 goals.The Blaugranas’ beleaguered defense threw away 2-0 and 3-2 leads at Levante, as Ronald Koeman’s men failed to overtake Atletico Madrid in the first of nine (or fewer) matches that will determine the Spanish champion.
Lack of focus has been a clear problem all season long, although perhaps upgrades to the team’s choice of players are in order for the summer.
It’s all but assured that Eric García will sign from, but beyond that, how will the defense be bolstered?
Matthijs de Ligt () could perhaps be a top transfer target for Joan Laporta’s first summer back in charge, but is he too expensive? The Catalans had tried to convince him before, back when he used to play for AFC Ajax. He ultimately did not do what his then-teammate Frenkie de Jong did, choosing not to go to the Camp Nou.
Barcelona could take a look at their fullbacks as well as centerbacks, and even the goalkeeper (Marc-André ter Stegen will be out three months with an injury, and trust in Neto is relatively low).
Changing the midfield could also be a possibility for giving some cover to help the team concede less. Even improving the attack could do that, to try to pin the other team back further.
But one of the most important things would be not in terms of individuals, but improving how the team defends collectively. Of course individuals matter, but defending is often something you do as a unit. Whether it’s movements in the offside trap, or not giving the ball away in dangerous situations, or not losing your man in a set-piece.
There are no easy fixes for that, just long, gradual ones.
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