From struggle to strength: Three reasons behind Barcelona’s recent improvement in defense

Heads were drooping low as Barcelona sulked their way back into the dressing room after suffering a humiliating 5-3 defeat to Villarreal earlier this year.

The club’s inability to act cohesively on the pitch and concede goals as frequently as a leaky faucet drips water eventually culminated in coach Xavi Hernandez dropping the bombshell news of his departure at the end of the season.

After reigning supreme in La Liga last season, all the positive sensations that enveloped Barcelona seemed to have evaporated.

In just eight games during January, Barcelona conceded 15 goals, allowing a whopping 110 shots and having -1.4 goals saved.

But adversity often has the effect of eliciting talents that, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.

And Xavi, in particular, recognized he had to formulate a new plan of action, with the defeat to Villarreal serving as the breaking point.

Since then, the Catalan giants have undergone a structural overhaul, which has led to a considerable decrease in the goals Barcelona are conceding.

Indeed, Barça have simply conceded 7 goals in 10 games and are yet to lose a single encounter owing to the newfound solidity at the back.

In this piece, we take a deep dive into the three reasons behind Barcelona’s defensive improvement and, consequently, their overall form.

1. Christensen: The stopgap savior of Barcelona

Against Alaves, whom Barcelona defeated with a comfortable 3-1 score, Xavi made two fundamental changes that represented the most important structural change: Christensen’s move to the pivot, and Pau Cubarsi’s situation in the Gala XI.

The consequence of Christensen playing at the base of midfield was a shift to a closed double pivot, with Christensen assuming a focused defensive role.

The Danish stalwart eschewed a prominent role in progression but diligently covered the space vacated by Frenkie De Jong or other creators.

Is Christensen the pivot Barcelona have been looking for? (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty…

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Author : Shahraiz Sajjad

Publish date : 2024-03-27 13:43:08

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