Another day, another bittersweet friendly loss for Barcelona. A bad start followed by a dominant performance that ends with the team following short and wasting clear chances to win. This time, the Blaugrana lost 2-1 to Fiorentina in Italy to end their International Champions Cup campaign with just one win in four games.
The Florence side started in a crazy pace, blitzing a lazy Barça defense to score two goals in 12 minutes, both by Bernardeschi. After a terrible start, Luis Enrique's team began to slowly but surely dominate possession, show good movement on the offense and create plenty of chances, most of them thrown away because of bad shots. Eventually, in a beautiful play between Iniesta and Rakitic, the ball found Suárez, who scored Barça's lone goal in the match.
Full of changes in the second half, both teams were less intense, but the Catalan giants were still dangerous. More and more opportunities to score, but no goals to show for all this dominance. In the end, another great performance with a disappointing result. But hey, #Preseason.
1. Barça's defense is still asleep. It was the same start in every preseason game: lazy defending, poor closeouts, poor help defense, poor effort, and lots of early goals. Also like the other games, the goals served as a wake up call and the team was much better after that. Of course, it's preseason, and without Javier Mascherano to motivate everyone to be as fierce and committed on defense like him, it's hard to find the rhythm when the games don't matter. But the defensive problems were evident, and they can't become a pattern for the rest of this season.
2. The midfield is already playing at a high level. Luis Enrique used his starting midfielders for most of the game, and they were almost perfect. Rakitic and Iniesta were playing some beautiful and precise long balls over the top for Suárez and the wingers, made quick, smart decisions on offense and played an important role on the team's high pressing. Rakitic's assist on the first goal was something spectacular, and it seems fair to assume that, if healthy, the midfield will be great again this season.
3. The finishing is not good yet. In all four games so far, the team creates plenty of chances, gets in front of goal with relative ease, and always finds itself in great striking position. But the actual shots have been subpar. Even Luis Suárez, who had three goals in the International Champions Cup, was way below average on his attempts on goal. As the season rolls on and Lionel Messi and Neymar join the squad, the accuracy on the shots should improve.