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The way to improve Barcelona is by strengthening the defense

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But how can that be done?

Villarreal CF v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Jose Miguel Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Take a look at the team statistics in La Liga and it’s evident where FC Barcelona’s strengths and weaknesses are.

With 84 goals in the league, the Catalans have scored 19 more than Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid, the next-best attacks. But when it comes to the defense, Barça have conceded 14 more than Atléti, 11 more than Real, and even 5 more than Sevilla. The blaugrana have actually conceded as much as Real Sociedad.

It’s clear that if Barça wants to improve on this year’s league finish, they will have to do it by conceding less, especially at inopportune moments.

Lack of focus has been a clear problem all season long, although perhaps upgrades to the team’s choice of players are in order for the summer.

It’s all but assured that Eric García will sign from Manchester City, but beyond that, how will the defense be bolstered?

Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) could perhaps be a top transfer target for Joan Laporta’s first summer transfer window back in charge, but is he too expensive? The Catalans had tried to convince him before, back when he used to play for AFC Ajax. He ultimately did not do what his then-teammate Frenkie de Jong did, choosing not to go to the Camp Nou.

Barcelona could take a look at their fullbacks as well as centerbacks, and even the goalkeeper (Marc-André ter Stegen will be out three months with an injury, and trust in Neto is relatively low).

Changing the midfield could also be a possibility for giving some cover to help the team concede less. Even improving the attack could do that, to try to pin the other team back further.

But one of the most important things would be not in terms of individuals, but improving how the team defends collectively. Of course individuals matter, but defending is often something you do as a unit. Whether it’s movements in the offside trap, or not giving the ball away in dangerous situations, or not losing your man in a set-piece.

There are no easy fixes for that, just long, gradual ones.