On a night when Barca, and particularly Ansu Fati, should’ve been celebrating a job well done, there’s a niggling feeling that if the game had been a few minutes longer, Levante would’ve taken a point from it.
Though not at their best up front, Barca’s attacking play was acceptable, and but for the woodwork they would’ve won by more than they did.
However, the visitors had seven reasonably good chances in the second half, with Barca indebted, once again, to Marc-Andre ter Stegen for keeping them in the game.
Ruben Rochina’s consolation was no more than Levante deserved, the home defence at sixes and sevens as he let fly from distance.
A good win but alot of problems are there to be solved by Setien. It wasn't a good performance. Barca weren't dominating and setting up the rhythm in the sencond half. Defence is a major issue. Wish we had bought de Ligt during last summer— Jehanzaib Zafar (@Jehanzaib1995) February 2, 2020
Indeed, for most of the second half, and for some of the first, Barca were again lacking defensively. As they were against Leganes in the cup.
With Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba having to push forward to help orchestrate the patterns that Quique Setien wants to see from his side, it left Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet exposed.
Along with Samuel Umtiti, all three centre-backs are devoid of any pace and look like they’re running through treacle half the time when they need to get back.
Pique’s booking now sees him out of next weekend’s match against Betis, potentially meaning that Sergio Busquets will need to deputise as an emergency centre-back, although there is the option of using Barca B’s Ronald Araujo if required.
Pique booked. Will miss trip to Real Betis next weekend.— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) February 2, 2020
Levante, despite their mid-table position, are far from a poor side, but the worry for Quique Setien must be the ease with which they carved open the back four time and again in the second half. All it needs is an attacker to catch them on their heels, and the defence are floundering.
Much as it pains me to admit it, at this point, Real Madrid have a far superior back line. Solid, commanding... Los Blancos’ defence is everything Barca’s are not at the moment, and we are hanging onto their coat-tails by the skin of our teeth.
Barca still have a lot work to do. The defence is so poor, always carved open at any opportunity— Smoke and Mirrors (@AlimiHenry) February 2, 2020
Perhaps the new man in charge has to look at doing things a little differently in central midfield, in order to give more protection to the centre-backs, whilst ensuring there is sufficient cover out wide when Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba go walkabout.
There’s almost a look of Setien’s Betis already creeping in. Pretty good to watch going forward, but porous at the back.
With so few options available to correct things though, it’s difficult to see where any changes might come from - and that’s a concern.