After defeating Levante at the Camp Nou on Thursday thereby inching closer to Copa glory, Barcelona host strugglers Leganes this weekend. Leganes have won just once in their last five league fixtures while the Blaugranes are on a roll, winning six league games in a row.
As one-sided as this fixture seems on paper, Leganes have proved to be a difficult team to conquer as they (alongside Real Betis) are one of only two sides to defeat Barcelona in the league this season.
Also, Leganes have built themselves a bit of a giant killer reputation lately by beating Barcelona, drawing against Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, and eliminating Real Madrid from the Copa del Rey last season.
So let’s look at three things Barcelona need to do to win against Leganes:
Make the most of their possession
Barcelona are the side with the highest amount of possession in the league (61.5%), whereas Leganes enjoy the second least amount of possession (43.3%) behind only Getafe (41.9%). To predict Barcelona’s superiority over the ball in the upcoming fixture wouldn’t be a misjudgement but Leganes are a tough nut to crack with only 21 goals conceded. Also, their inability to convert finishing chances means they’ve scored a paltry 17 goals, the joint least in the league alongside SD Huesca and Real Valladolid. Barcelona must make the most of their possession and go for goal, as Leganes are the side with the least number of saves per 90 minutes (around 2) in the league.
Defuse aerial duel situations
Guido Carrillo has been in good form for the side that sit 13th in the league but now that he’s sidelined for the fixture, Martin Braithwaite and Youssef En-Nesyri are tipped to man the attack. Leganes boast an excellent record for aerial duel situations: they have managed to win around 56% of such duels, second only to the side they will be facing this weekend. This means they are highly capable of defusing set-pieces, as well as taking advantage of them. It will be interesting to see how Mauricio Pelligrino will adjust his tactics with Carrillo sidelined. They may stick to their dependence on long balls and if so, Barcelona must make sure they have the upper hand in intercepting their passes and disrupting their build up.
Overload the left side
Leganes make thorough use of long balls in their build up and play with width. Approximately 42% of their attacks have come through their left, which is the current highest tally in the league: this shows that they will definitely look to attack down their left side. There is a high probability that they may attempt long balls to switch wings and attempt crosses from the left flank. Arturo Vidal can be placed in the right side of the field due to his physicality and his tenacity to win the ball, although Arthur will rival him for a starting spot. Thus, Barcelona must look out for attacks especially from Leganes’s left side and thereby, instruct their right-back (either Sergi Roberto or Nelson Semedo) not to participate in attacks frequently and make defensive runs as much as possible.