1 April 2017
Barcelona have a problem when it comes to defending set-pieces, something which has been widely discussed this season.
Luis Enrique’s side are uncomfortable and look under pressure when asked to defend a corner or free kick around their penalty area.
These problems, which are nothing new, have been costly in 2017, with five of the nine goals the Catalan club have conceded in LaLiga this year coming from such situations, for a total of 55 per cent in the first three months of the year.
Rivals have identified Barcelona’s Achilles heel and taken that into account when preparing for games, something that was recognised by Alex Bergantinos at the end of Deportivo’s win over the Blaugrana, with two of their goals coming as a result of that strategy.
That reality has not escaped the attention of Granada boss Lucas Alcaraz who devotes a specific amount of time each week to set-pieces, identifying as an area where his side can hurt Barcelona.
If it weren’t for Barcelona’s defensive fragility in this regard, the Catalans would be league leaders but have neglected this defensive aspect of their game and it has been to their cost.
So far in LaLiga, seven points have been lost as a result of goals conceded from set pieces into the penalty box.
It was from one of those situations that Sergio Ramos denied them an El Clasico win with a late equaliser, with Luis Enrique acknowledging before that game the need not to give fouls away in positions where Real could send in crosses and Arda Turan’s tackle on Marcelo proved fatal.
Even then, the man in charge at the Camp Nou knew that his team suffer when defending crosses into the box and was all too aware that Real are experts at taking advantage of such situations.
The other five points they lost thanks to their weakness in this area came against Real Betis, thanks to Alegria’s goal, and Deportivo as previously mentioned.
It leaves one wondering what Barcelona can do to solve the problem, with the responsibility also falling to Juan Carlos Unzue, who is in charge of preparing the team for defensive set-pieces.
Although he has been praised for the way in which he has improved the side’s attacking play in this regard, he has not managed to do so in the defensive aspect of things.
It is necessary that the club solve the problem as soon as possible before it costs them the ultimate prize.