Barça’s last victory, Sunday evening at Betis Sevilla (3-2), symbolizes the roller coaster experienced by the Catalan club in recent weeks. Fifteen games have passed since the draw for the round of 16 of the Champions League in mid-December. During this period, Lionel Messi’s teammates signed 12 wins, two draws and one setback, in the final of the Spanish Supercup. But this seemingly convincing series of results conceals more complexity, like the four games concluded with extra time.
“Sunday is a bit of a summary of Barça,” explains Daniel Bravo, La Liga commentator for beIN Sports. When Messi is not there, it is no longer the same team. We saw a small Barça in the first period. And as soon as it kicks in, it makes others better. The offensive animation becomes good again but the defense is clearly the weak point. “
On the series of fifteen meetings mentioned, the figures confirm the impression: 35 goals scored but 18 conceded, including six in three clashes against Athletic Bilbao (3-2, 2-3 ap, 2-1) or three in the same cup match against Granada (5-3 after).
“This is what makes me think that Paris has its chances, believes Daniel Bravo, former PSG midfielder (1989-1996). Barça have a great goalkeeper (Ter Stegen) but the central hinge is crumbly. The team concedes a lot of goals and not against big names. PSG are able to be solid defensively while it seems more difficult for Barça. “
An attractive environment and a found offensive balance
The ankle injury of young Ronald Araujo, replacing Gerard Piqué, also injured in the knee, casts a new shadow on the Barcelona defensive table. Finally, only the French Clément Lenglet exudes a certain solidity.
These mistakes put Barça in difficulty, author of five “clean-sheets” only since mid-December, all obtained outside. A sign that Camp Nou, the theater of the first leg against PSG on February 16, no longer represents this impregnable fortress. To win, Barça seems forced to score at least three times in each meeting. And Blaugrana fans can count on the offensive balance found by Ronald Koeman.
“It took a long time to find the right system, there was also the false start of Messi which destabilized everyone, recalls Daniel Bravo. Koeman managed to revive the team using the well-known 4-3-3 at Barcelona. The environment is now attractive. Pedri and De Jong are improving and their relationship with Dembélé, Messi and Griezmann is working very well. “
7 goals and 6 assists for Griezmann in 10 games
Pilloryed for his catastrophic start to the season, Antoine Griezmann is smiling again. The Frenchman remains on ten tenures in a row, playing the vast majority of Barça’s minutes. A confidence that the world champion gives back to his coach: with 7 goals and 6 assists over this period, his performance contributes to the good Barcelona pass.
“I take my hat off to him, congratulates Daniel Bravo, beIN Sports consultant. He worked being a good teammate, showing professionalism. He is back to the top and he has everyone’s confidence and the talent to make a difference. “Even his agreement with Messi is no longer a subject, which is to say that the gloomy atmosphere of the first months of the season has disappeared, at least in the locker room.
Outside, Barça continues its institutional crisis. The elections for the presidency will take place on March 7, three days before the return match against Neymar’s PSG, and the various candidates are floundering in the Catalan media. The latest event: the leak of Messi’s gigantic contract in the press has overturned the seat of the club. It remains to be seen whether this crisis influences, or not, the players.
Ter Stegen – Dest, Mingueza, Lenglet, Alba – De Jong, Busquets (cap.), Pedri – Dembélé, Griezmann, Messi.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr