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Defensive frailties shouldn’t detract from Barcelona’s progress

Heads can be held high

FC Bayern München v FC Barcelona: Group C - UEFA Champions League Photo by Geert van Erven/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images

It was no surprise whatsoever that Xavi went with experience in his defence, as Barca took to the field at the Allianz Arena.

The pre-match narrative was almost exclusively about Robert Lewandowski’s return to his former club, however, Xavi had far bigger issues to concern himself with.

Such as how the likes of Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso would fare against Sadio Mane, Leroy Sane and Thomas Muller.

In the opening half hour, though the hosts were able to get in behind with frequency, the Bavarians rarely threatened in an attacking sense.

Indeed, so compact were Barca’s back four that Bayern found it difficult to get any space in the key moments.

FC Bayern München v FC Barcelona: Group C - UEFA Champions League Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Not so the Catalans who could conceivably have been three goals to the good before there was 30 minutes on the clock.

The incisiveness in Barca’s play was a joy to watch at times, pushing back a side time and again that comfortably beat them last season.

If Lewandowski had his shooting boots on, a first-half hat-trick wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility as the visitors dominated the chances on goal.

Even at 0-0 at half-time, it was an absorbing watch for which both sides deserved credit.

The opener, when it came, was a simple near post header for Bayern and was squarely as a result of probably the first mistake that Alonso had made all game.

That was, unfortunately for Xavi’s side, the moment when the sky fell in on the back four, whose inability to reset quickly enough saw another quickly conceded.

FC Bayern München v FC Barcelona: Group C - UEFA Champions League Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Questions would rightly have been asked of players who had stemmed the tide with relative ease prior to the break.

As Bayern went up a gear, the drop off in energy and application from Barca was noticeable, and that could be a worry for Xavi and his back room staff.

That said, despite the end result, the 90 minutes again showed real progress from an emerging squad.

The green shoots of recovery are there, and with a little refinement, particularly with their game management if they go behind, there’s no reason whatsoever why this can’t be a successful season for the Blaugranes.

Lest we forget that this team are still very much in its infancy and in the learning phase. Learning what Xavi wants of them, and learning the movements and patterns of play that will ensure that they win more than they lose.

There is so much to admire, but they must be allowed to make their mistakes on the road to greatness.

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