Barca going backwards under Valverde
Barcelona have been poor away from home for a while now, but a trip to La Liga’s bottom side was expected to yield a comfortable victory.
It all started so promisingly too with Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi all named in the starting XI which suggested a fun afternoon could be in store.
Instead the blockbuster attack struggled badly, the defence wobbled again and Barca needed two set-pieces and a bit of luck to claim a fortunate three points.
It’s not the first time this season the team have got away with it and it probably won’t be the last, but Valverde is going to run out of luck at some point.
There has been plenty of talk after matches this season about the team needing to improve, but absolutely no evidence of it on the pitch come matchday.
This time around Valverde spoke about the pitch being terrible and something about it being very windy too at Butarque, but really there’s no excuse for the brand of football his team are serving up at present.
Barca’s defensive problems run deep
Barcelona were without three-quarters of their usual defence against Leganes and so it was little surprise to see them fail to keep a clean sheet yet again in La Liga.
Yet their defensive problems show no signs of slowing down. Gerard Pique has been far from his best this season and was partly to blame for the opening goal that forced Barca to come from behind yet again.
Samuel Umtiti was back in the team again but is still looking miles away from the player who was such an absolute rock when he first joined from Lyon and doubts remain over his fitness.
Full-backs Moussa Wague and Junior Firpo were both handed rare starts due to injury and suspension and were solid enough but aren’t really offering genuine competition to Jordi Alba and Nelson Semedo.
It was also interesting to note that Jean-Clair Todibo was cut from the final squad, but Ronald Araujo made the bench, suggesting there is some truth in rumors Valverde prefers the Barca B star to the Frenchman.
Barca’s defensive problems will continue against Dortmund. Pique is suspended, Clement Lenglet is a doubt after missing this game through injury, so too Jordi Alba, while no-one seems quite sure if Umtiti can play two games in a week anymore.
Vidal rescues Valverde again
Arturo Vidal once again came off the bench again to save Valverde’s bacon, something that is becoming a bit of a habit for the Chile international.
The midfielder’s goal was his fourth of the campaign, more than he managed in the entirety of last season, and as many as €120 million man Antoine Griezmann has bagged for Barcelona.
In fact his minutes per goal rate in La Liga is pretty impressive:
While Vidal is not your classic Barca-style midfielder there’s no doubting his value to the team this season, his fighting spirit and his ability to pop up with important goals.
There has been talk at the start of the season that he could leave in January and he did say last month he wasn’t too happy at Barca on the bench, but on current form it would be a huge surprise if he was allowed to leave in January.