Very much like the swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Arc who wielded his sword all over and threatened to attack, all it took was one shot from Indiana Jones to end that threat.
This was a long time coming for the blaugrana. If you look at numbers alone, Barcelona is one of the best defenses in La Liga. In their recent run of good form where they won their last sixteen matches in all competitions, there was still one loose end. Their defense was the one aspect of the game that kept their opponents alive and well.
Exhibit A- Celtic’s performance at home against the blaugrana where they only mustered up three shots on goal, but of those three two beat Victor Valdés. In that match Barcelona dominated in possession 68-32.
Exhibit B- Valencia gave Barcelona 13 corners, and saw the culés monopolize the ball 67-33. They only generated two shots on goal, but one of them beat the home defense.
Exhibit C- Kun Aguero destroyed the Barca backline. Regardless of who was in front of him, they weren’t for very long as he led Atlético to a 4-2 win. This was the main problem that allowed Barcelona to be atop the La Liga standings for about 15 minutes. It was also the reason why they are now five points behind with the games now becoming scarce. Time of possession is absolutely lopsided in Barcelona games, but this statistic can skew perspectives. If a team has a ball and does nothing with it, then stats do not help a case so much. Time of possession is a supplementary statistic. On its own it has no weight. If a team is in the lead on the scoreboard as well as in the shots category, then possession says a great deal. If possession is held by the losing team, chances are that the losing team played into their opponents’ hands.
If Barca expect to win any silverware this year, this problem needs to be corrected pronto. They are slow to boot, and when a player has that quality as well as dribbling skills it is a disaster waiting to happen. Their possession usually goes backwards and does not put as much pressure on a goalkeeper as it should. Two to one possession should force a goalkeeper to be dirty at the least. Yet the story sees Victor Valdés having to use Shout to clean the grass stains off of his uniform at the end of the day. Players like Aguero, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tévez, Robinho, Kaká, Clarence Seedorf, and others can matchup against any of Barcelona’s defensive combinations. They have shown everyone the three cardinal sins of defense- they are slow, they are old, and they get broken down quick. When your fastest defender is Lilian Thuram, you are in deep trouble. Don’t get me wrong, but him along with Carles Puyol and Gabriel Milito make a formidable group of defenders, but they do not matchup well against any speedsters. Rafa Márquez seems to have slowed down considerably as well. He is no longer that pillar of security that he was in his first few seasons at the Nou Camp. That is what a total of 16 injuries do to a body after a while.
Their big problem is once the opposing team gets past that midfield. When the ball gets behind Xavi and Yaya Touré that is when Barça fans feel their hearts jump up into their throat. It gets worse when anyone player has to matchup against any other team’s player- one on one.
So all of a sudden when the Catalan faithful saw a chance of obtaining a treble just a few days ago, their dreams came to a crashing end. This is what makes it saddest of all for a club that played, and on its best day embodies the Beautiful Game, quickly come to an end.
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