A trip to the Camp Nou ranks as one of the worst places in the world to go as an away team. A 99,000 strong colosseum of football is accompanied with some of the finest players in the game which all in all makes it unlikely you’ll be leaving with three points. However, this season there has been a declining trend of Barça dropping points at home in the league.
Barcelona currently sit six points behind leaders Real Madrid and there is a clear sign of which department needs improvement. In the away form table, Barcelona are second behind Madrid who have amassed just one point more. However, at home, Barcelona are eleventh best in the league and have dropped nine points in just seven games. Granted, two of those seven games included visits from both Real and Atlético Madrid but Barcelona have also sacrificed points to Málaga and Alavés. Meanwhile, Madrid have won five and drawn two in the same time.
If we look back at past seasons, Barça’s title winning foundation was built on their stellar home form. The first home disappointment this season was on the 10th of September while last season it wasn’t until the 12th of December that Barça dropped points, in the 14/15 season it took until the 1st of November, in the 13/14 season it was the 1st of February and in 12/13 the 2-2 Clásico on the 7th of October was the first time Barça failed to achieve a win.
This drop in form hasn’t escaped Enrique’s attention either.
"We need to improve, above all, our numbers at home.”
So what is it that is causing Barça to stumble at home? The most obvious cause would be the teams difficulties in playing opponents that defend deep. In all four of the home games in which Barcelona have dropped points, they have failed to score more than one goal. Málaga, Alavés and Atlético all came to the Catalan capital and set up deep to defend. Real Madrid were less defensively minded than the previous three but even then, they had a clear gameplay to limit Messi, Suárez and Neymar’s chances to a minimum.
The lack of key players is also a big issue. The Alavés defeat saw Messi, Suárez and Iniesta rested until after the hour mark, the Atlético draw had Messi leave injured in the 59th minute, Málaga faced a Barça side without Iniesta, Messi and Suárez while the Clásico started without Iniesta on the field. Barça need their key players to be consistently fit and when more than one of them is unavailable, it becomes a lot harder for the team.
We must also look at the quality of opposition the team has faced. Both of Barça’s main title rivals have come and gone and while the Catalans have failed to win either of the games, they have remained undefeated. But the draw to Málaga has to be a disappointment regardless of the form of Carlos Kameni.
Despite there already being a six point gap, it is only December so the Liga is far from over. However, Barça will need a dramatic change to their home form if they want to retain their crown.