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Barcelona’s Right Flank Was a Defensive Weakness vs. Valencia

Ernesto Valverde has to sort it out

Valencia v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Fotopress/Getty Images

In Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Valencia, Ernesto Valverde took the unusual step of substituting his whole right side. Nelson Semedo and Ivan Rakitić made way for Aleix Vidal and Gerard Deulofeu, as Barcelona pushed forth for an equalizer.

The equalizer did come, from the left flank though - Jordi Alba volleying a sumptuous Messi pass.

Did the subs work? Maybe not. Neither Deulofeu nor Vidal had great performances - in fact, they were kinda bad.

Still it’s easy to see Valverde felt his right side was letting him down. Of Valencia's nine shots, eight came from the right side. Only one was from the left.

It didn’t help that with both Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano out, Barcelona were forced to play Samuel Umtiti on the right side of defense, despite the player favoring his left foot. Umtiti was great, but perhaps it would have helped to have Piqué there and allow Umtiti back to his natural spot.

Semedo has usually been solid for Barça, but he was less than stellar against Valencia. He was fooled when Barcelona conceded, and in fact, was targeted often by Gonçalo Guedes and José Luis Gayà. He showed sparkles, but clearly his performance was not to the manager’s liking, as he took the unusual step of substituting a fullback when needing a goal.

Rakitić didn’t provide enough support, and he was not enough of a threat on the ball to pin Valencia back, either. In fact, in the second half he was guilty of leaving Semedo with too much to deal with.

Deulofeu was shockingly wasteful, Vidal was imprecise as well. So what’s the answer? Well, two options are currently injured: Sergi Roberto and Ousmane Dembélé. Those two should be capable of starting, though it remains to be seen how.

Another source of optimism: Semedo probably is still adapting to Barcelona. He’s had a great start, but this was not his best game. There’s a chance that he will own that right flank, the way Dani Alves once did, one day.

Piqué will return. Rakitić has to return to form, or else he will be replaced. And Roberto and Dembélé are set to be fit in the near future. Valverde will have options.

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