Barcelona will travel to London to face Tottenham in the Champions League tonight, but they have not been very convincing lately. With just two points earned from a possible nine, the Blaugrana have not won a fixture in their last three matches. Defensive frailties have been exposed, whilst their movements upfront have not been good enough to earn them a win.
They have struggled against mid-level teams as they are yet to come face to face with any major opposition. Here we take a look at some of the possible reasons for their current state of affairs.
Complacency amongst first-team regulars
Lionel Messi, Ter Stegen, Gerrard Pique, Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez have been a mainstay in the Barcelona starting lineup for quite some time now. However, some of these stars have failed to meet the expectations of their coach Ernesto Valverde.
Pique and Rakitic have come under sharp criticisms from commentators and fans for poor performances. Whereas we all know that the two are some of the best players in their positions, Pique’s defensive errors have proven too costly for the team. Rakitic for his part has witnessed a slump in form after a spectacular World Cup. He has been accused of losing his creative competitiveness, whilst Suarez has been drawing blanks in a more frequent manner.
Over-reliance on Messi
FC Barcelona have mostly depended on Messi to come good and get them going. It is quite evident to see that they suffer when Messi is struggling on the field. The Argentine has scored five goals in the league this season, registering 4.3 shots per game. However, he’s second to none in terms of chance creation, completing 4.5 dribbles per game and 4 key passes per game. They have other players in Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, but it has always been Messi who makes them better.
Change of style
Barcelona have been synonymous with possession football, but that has changed in the last couple of months. They have registered the best possession stats in La Liga this season, but their priority has always been to take control of the game. Valverde has shifted from a 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 in a bid to be more offensive, but that has disrupted his team’s defensive stability.
Whereas they enjoy long periods of possession, they have a tendency to commit too many men forward, leaving their defence exposed. The situation is not helped by the fact that they like to play a high defensive line and their fullbacks also like to join in the action. In short, they set themselves up to be hit on the counter-attack and teams have discovered this weakness.
The time for excuses is over though. Barcelona simply have to get back to winning ways, and if they can do so against Spurs, it may just boost their morale and see them pick up points again.