Sunday, March 18, 2018

Barcelona now has a fight for the Spanish title

David Nugent in Editorial, La Liga 18 Apr 2016

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique needs to find a solution to the Spanish champions poor run of form of late

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique needs to find a solution to the Spanish champions poor run of form of late

Barcelona’s implosion of form in the past month has been one of the strangest witnessed in recent times in a major European league.

A shock 2-1 home defeat against Valencia on Sunday night was their third consecutive defeat in La Liga.

The last time the Blaugrana underwent such a poor run of form was back in 2003, but this current team seemed the most unlikely one to have matched that run.

Vulnerabilities exposed at Barcelona

People may point to Barcelona’s poor run of form starting with the 2-1 home defeat against bitter-rivals Real Madrid. The defeat ended the Catalan teams 39 match unbeaten run.

However, Barcelona had drawn 2-2 at high-flying Villarreal in the previous round of games, despite being two goals up and seemingly cruising. The fact that they did not win that game from such a comfortable position was a sign of things to come.

Maybe that draw felt like a defeat psychologically and it was not great preparation for El Clasico and a Real Madrid team determined to get one over their perennial Catalan rivals.

Barcelona have never been solid in defence, even Pep Guardiola’s great ‘Tiki-Taka’ masters were vulnerable at the back, simply because of the way the team played. The full-backs like to attack and so does most of the rest of the team.

A team can only depend on a fantastic strike-force for so long, as not matter how good a team is going forward they will always be vulnerable to losing games with a weak backline.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were tearing teams apart not so long ago, but since their form has slowed down slight in recent weeks, those defensive vulnerabilities have been painfully exposed.

Too close to call for Luis Enrique’s side

The Real Madrid defeat then subsequent losses to Real Sociedad and of course Valencia has left Barcelona leading the table by virtue of just their superior head-to-head record over Atletico Madrid.

Even worse rivals Real Madrid are also breathing down Barcelona’s necks just a point behind the reigning European champions. Superior head-to-head records over both their rivals from the capital may just give the Catalan giants the edge though.

Luis Enrique’s sides fixtures also seem relatively kind as well, so nobody will be panicking at Barcelona just yet, but I bet that very few people saw their massive implosion a month or so ago. Suddenly Barcelona are in a dogfight with two teams who seem to have found their top form in recent weeks.

Both will be hoping for the Catalan giants to slip-up at least once more this season and after the way they have been performing of late that is not impossible.

Barcelona still title favourites

Barcelona are still favourites to win La Liga this season at odds of 1/ 2, which is understandable considering that the Catalan giants look to have more winnable games and a superior head-to-head record against their rivals.

As the stat about Barcelona not losing three consecutive La Liga games since 2003 proved, the Catalan giants do not tend to endure poor runs of form for very long.

They tend to have too much quality within their team to underperform for very long and that quality more often than not shines through. The likes of Messi, Suarez and Neymar have endured a quiet period by their high standards over the last month.

However, they are unlikely to stay out-of-form for very long and no doubt attack is the best form of defence for the Blaugrana. It is only a matter of time before they return to form again and the Catalan giants start winning.

Luis Enrique’s side were not expecting to be in this position a month ago, but they have to accept that their performances need to improve if they are to retain their La Liga crown this season. If not then the two Madrid giants could just capitalise on any slip-ups and snatch the title from right under their noses.

Will Barcelona win La Liga this season?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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