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Barcelona halfway report: Defenders

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Ranking the men at the back.

Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Marc-André ter Stegen


FC Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus - UEFA Champions League Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Games Played Clean Sheets Total Saves Saves/Shots Ratio Total Passes Pass Accuracy Your Rating Sam's Rating
17 11 50 87.7% 507 81.1% 10 10

With every passing game it seems more incredible that ter Stegen was once linked with a move away from Barcelona. A choice between Claudio Bravo and ter Stegen saw the former switch to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and since then the German keeper has excelled into one of the world’s finest.

This season has seen him at his dominating best. Saving his side on more than once occasion whilst being also perfectly playing the role of Barcelona’s first attacker. His distribution is excellent and his instinctive shot stopping is among the best in the world. Rest assured without ter Stegen in-between the sticks, Barcelona would not be sitting pretty at the top of La Liga.


Sergi Roberto


Villarreal v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Fotopress/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals Your Rating Sam's Rating
13 11 31 64.5% 748 92% 57.5 7 1 0 1 8 8

Barcelona’s great utility man continues to impress this season. As fans clamber for him to start in a midfield role, Sergi Roberto continues to play at right back. Perhaps the biggest compliment to the player is he is no longer described as “filling in at right back”. As well providing a competent defensive opportunity, Roberto has also improved his attacking game and makes for a good partner to the marauding Jordi Alba.

Still though, midfield looks the best place for Roberto to shine


Nélson Semedo


FC Barcelona v Sporting CP - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals Your Rating Sam's Rating
10 7 10 80% 391 89.3% 39.1 3 0 0 0 7 7

A player who started the season brightly but appears to have fallen down the pecking order in recent weeks. An initial start full of energetic performances of a player eager to get forward have subsided for a player not overly sure of what to do and when.

Semedo is likely to be a better right back than Roberto but the youngster’s inconsistencies have opened the door for the Spaniard to return to the position. A second half of the season more reminiscent of the first quarter would see him lock down his spot in the team.


Gerard Piqué


Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals Your Rating Sam's Rating
13 13 15 73.3% 915 89.9% 70.4 11 6 0 1 8 7

At the age of 30, Piqué is now the experienced leader of the backline. His increasing age has led to him on occasion being too slow to react and his lack of pace has hurt him this season but with the pace of Umtiti alongside him, the Spaniard has a reliable partner.

A highlight also saw him take the captain’s armband for a game in which he orchestrated his team of youngsters to a winning performance. Puyol would be proud.


Javier Mascherano


FC Barcelona v Chapecoense - Joan Gamper Trophy Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals Your Rating Sam's Rating
6 5 14 92.9% 351 90.9% 58.5 8 0 0 0 6 6

Absent for a large part of the season, it seems Mascherano is on his way out of the club. When he has played, he hasn’t looked at his best. Once applauded for his position, the Argentine has been caught on occasion this season.

Barcelona finally have better alternatives than the CDM turned CB and if the club strengthen in the winter transfer window, Mascherano may well be heading the opposite way.


Samuel Umtiti


Valencia v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Fotopress/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals Your Rating Sam's Rating
12 12 29 62.1% 931 92.2% 77.6 11 4 0 0 9 9

Taking the mantle of Barça’s best centre back from Piqué, Samuel Umtiti has been a defensive rock this season. A mixture of pace, well timed tackles and smart positioning has made it very tough for opponents to get in at Barça’s goal. If a player has the ability to get past Umtiti, the Frenchman has the pace to make up the ground and get a tackle in.

His fitness will be crucial for Barcelona if they hope to win trophies.


Thomas Vermaelen


Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals Your Rating Sam's Rating
5 4 7 85.7% 230 92.6% 46 4 2 0 0 7 7

Tasked with filling in during a Barça defensive injury crisis, Vermaelen has passed this test helping to ensure a clean sheet in the Clásico. Criticism of the player can be seen as harsh given his appalling injury record has kept his appearances to a minimum and thus turned him into a bit of a laughing stock but when he is actually on the pitch, he has played well. Some mistakes have been present but they have largely been caused by the lack of a consistent run of games.

If he can stay fit, he can defintley challenge the first choice partnership of Umtiti and Piqué.


Jordi Alba


Barcelona v Celta de Vigo - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals Your Rating Sam's Rating
15 15 29 79.3% 1048 88.4% 69.9 20 3 0 1 9 9

With the departure of Neymar and the injury of Dembélé, Barcelona were forced to adopt a 4-4-2 that consisted of central midfielders playing on the wings. This, in turn, forced Alba to provide a lot of the width and he has done this task magnificently. Producing runs similar to his Barça career pre-Neymar and with the vision of Messi nor centrally, these runs are being rewarded.

A quick one-two, a drag back or even a shot himself. Alba’s attacking game is strong this season and he has almost become a left winger that on occasion defends. Whether he can produce such performances against Europe’s elite will be the true test of where Alba ranks among the bets full backs in the world.


Lucas Digne


FC Barcelona v Sporting CP - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals Your Rating Sam's Rating
4 2 5 80% 129 86% 32.3 2 1 0 0 7 7

An able replacement for Alba if not always setting the world on fire. With the almost impossible task of benching one of the world’s finest left backs, Digne has had a turbulent time since he moved to the Catalans in 2016. He has made just four league appearances this season but may be required more during the business end of the season.


Aleix Vidal


Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals Your Rating Sam's Rating
10 3 3 66.7% 202 77.7% 20.2 2 0 0 0 7 7

Appearing mostly as a substitute, Vidal has done well when called upon. Whether that’s part of the back four or more often as a midfielder, his pace has been used against tried legs. Although he is guilty of wasting chances in the final third but he did get a Clásico goal which is a great way to endear yourself to the fans.


Defender of the season so far


Samuel Umtiti (76%)