I was elated when Mangala scored for Valencia off a set piece. Trust me, there's nothing I want more that for Barcelona to win every single match they play, but I needed that set-piece goal against us to happen. The reason being that the cynical in me needed at least one more instance of screwing up before finally admitting that this team is, without a doubt, one of the worst I've ever seen when it comes to set plays. I've been stewing over this for a while now, and Mangala's goal allows me to validly discuss it in this article. It isn't really a problem of height either, as two of our tallest players are the worst offenders. Busquets and Pique are regularly awful at heading the ball. And I'm not just arguing they're awful just on set-pieces, but all around.
I've seen Pique, more than once, be completely alone and primed to head a ball coming his way, only to then do some weak-ass finicky clearance that usually ends up being a flop going to the other team instead of the start of a good counter for us. Busquets is no better. Basically, the only tall player that excels at heading the ball in any situation is Umtiti. Shocker. Dude is basically good at everything he does. Coaches have come and gone, but none has been able to really fix the whole set-piece situation. Is it just terrible coaching? Or maybe the coaches have the tactical acumen but lack the player talent? We've already seen set plays harm this team on more than one occasion this season in important scenarios.
The other side of the set-pieces is what we could be doing with them; the offensive side of the whole deal. It really grinds my gears how inadequate this team is at corners. Because of our style of heavy attacking play, we usually get a hefty number of corners per game... anyone remember the last time we scored one? On average, Barcelona get 6.46 corners per game in La Liga. Since that’s an average it means that some games have more, some less. But say you only scored one goal out of every six chances, in 28 games you would have already scored around 26.88 goals more. And that’s just corners. I absolutely detest the player, think of that what you will, but look at Sergio Ramos’ set-piece scoring and what a valuable weapon that is. How many games were Madrid on the edge of losing or tying before a set-piece goal from this dude? None other more infuriating than the one against us in the first Clásico.
Irish Goat’s Gamboling Goleadores!
1st Goleador: Messi
Had a bit of a slow start but then settled in and started tearing Valencia apart. We were again treated to another magical performance from this man. Although this game was important to keep pressure on in La Liga, players seemed to be having fun out there and making tremendous, entertaining plays and passes, the center of which was mostly this genius.
2nd Goleador: Iniesta
If he plays every remaining game this season as he played this one, then if I were an opposing player I would be terrified every time Iniesta had possession. What vision. Truly breathtaking.
3rd Goleador: Sergi Roberto
Y’all thought I was kidding, didn’t cha? HALL PASS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON. I don’t care what he does.