It’s evident that Barcelona have suffered a slump in form, dropping five points in two games. The draw against Girona was not the worst result, but the loss to Leganes was horrendous.
Moving forward, they face Basque club Athletic Bilbao in a much-anticipated home fixture. Barcelona were a little fortunate last time around when Real Madrid lost to Sevilla leaving the top two places in the league table unchanged, but the club can’t depend on other teams doing them favours.
So what should Barcelona do to win against Athletic and gain a much-needed three points? Let’s find out.
1. Play Their Strongest Team
Valverde’s tactics are being questioned but you have got to admit he’s not totally wrong. Squad rotation is the need of the hour but the fringe players aren’t really doing the business. Clement Lenglet’s red card was indeed unfortunate, but Arthur and Thomas Vermaelen haven’t done enough. We sit on top of the table only on the basis of goal difference, which is bound to change cometh the next fixture. So the safest way is to play the A-team and opt for rotation only when necessary. Time for experimentation in the league looks to be over, and it’s time to run the show with the regular guys.
2. Eradicate Defensive Errors
What were Barcelona thinking in the last two fixtures? The same defence that conceded a mere 29 last season have conceded seven in the last six outings. It’s no secret that Samuel Umtiti’s performances have taken a hit, Gerard Pique’s clearance techniques aren’t improving, their errors are becoming chances to convert and even Marc-Andre ter Stegen can’t possibly save every shot he faces. And the worst part - the backups aren’t working well either. So it’s all up to Valverde and the way he treats this situation. Rectifying the error-making backbone of the team can do a world of good. Barcelona have made the left-back situation a priority in the January transfer window according to reports, something that they should’ve done in the summer but it’s never too late. Until a replacement comes in, Jordi Alba needs to start in every match he can.
3. Show Grit and Passion & Regain Their Identity
The Camp Nou has witnessed it’s fair share of sorrow, agony and revival. Strong-minded players and managers have walked down the pavilion and they are immortal in the club’s history; Carles Puyol being one of many.
Sadly, Barcelona doesn’t produce leaders anymore and it’s heartbreaking. A man with leadership skills and fighter instincts is what the club needs. And as of this moment, the club doesn’t look so ambitious. It needs to move on from the passive distribution of the ball to a more holistic and goal-oriented approach. Passes are important but converting them in to chances and subsequently, goals, wins you matches. That grit, that hunger and the roar from the crowd every time they saw moments of magic, needs to come alive. The most important thing that the Blaugranes need to do to get back to their winning ways is to show to the world why they like to pass the ball- because they pass with passion and the way they do it with their ornate and intricate style, makes them unbeatable and the best in the world. Let’s hope the match against Athletic becomes a stepping stone in fulfilling the club’s gigantic ambitions and expectations.