Home News Three things Barcelona need to work on during the international break

Three things Barcelona need to work on during the international break

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Three things Barcelona need to work on during the international break

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Barcelona have endured an incredibly tumultuous past few years but despite the constant financial confusion and high turnover of players, they still managed to win the 2022/23 La Liga title.

Right now, however, they are not on track to defend their crown.

Xavi’s side are currently third in the Spanish top flight after 13 games, though they would be fourth had Atletico Madrid played and won their game in hand. Bizarrely, it’s Girona who are top of the league with 34 points, while Real Madrid sit second with 32. Barca have 30, meaning they aren’t too far away.

One of the main tasks for Xavi this season is to ensure Barca reach the knockout stages of the Champions League. They won their first three games of the group stage but a loss away to Shakhtar Donetsk means the job is far from done.

There are clearly things the team need to figure out during the November international break that could lead them higher up the La Liga table and into the knockouts of the Champions League.

Ilkay Gundogan

Gundogan hasn’t found his scoring touch yet / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

While Barca are scoring a healthy number of goals this season, they have netted fewer in the league than Girona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. They are also the third-lowest scorers of the eight Champions League group leaders.

When you look at the spread of goals around the squad, it makes for simultaneously good and bad reading. Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres have struck eight and five times respectively, but elsewhere the goals have been spread out with 15 players having scored. The issue, however, is that too many of them have only one or two goals, particularly the midfielders.

It’s a sign of any great team when the midfield is chipping in with a healthy amount of goals. Right now, Fermin Lopez and Gavi have two each, while Ilkay Gundogan and Pedri have just one apiece. Summer arrival Oriol Romeu is yet to score, Frenkie de Jong has only one in an injury-affected season so far and Gundogan – who got 11 goals for Manchester City last season – can only match that haul.

Injuries are of course a factor here, which leads us into the next point nicely.

Jonathan Bamba, Frenkie de Jong

De Jong has had limited involvement / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

There have been a number of serious injuries for Xavi to deal with so far this season, particularly in midfield. The likes of Pedri and De Jong have missed huge chunks of the season, which is partly why their scoring figures are low.

Pedri is now back in the fray, while Gavi is fit along with Romeu, Gundogan and Lopez. On top of that, De Jong is expected to be back by the time domestic action resumes after the international break.

Xavi needs to have a serious think about which combination of midfielders will give Barca the best chance of defending their La Liga title. He also needs to hope none of them return to Catalonia with an injury.

The midfield for Barca has become very hard to predict and that needs to change as the season goes on.

Joao Felix

Barcelona have the firepower to score more goals in each game / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Something traditionally associated with Barca is their ability to completely dominate every game, be it through possession or volume of goals. This season, they are really struggling to beat anyone by a big margin, suggesting a lack of control over the 90 minutes.

Since the start of the season in all competitions, Barca have only won a game by more than a one-goal margin on three occasions; a 2-0 win over Cadiz and 5-0 victories over Real Betis and Royal Antwerp.

Every other success has been by a single goal, which is not a sustainable way to go about winning the league. They have drawn three games in La Liga this season and in all of them they never took the lead, suggesting they need to work on how they start matches.

Perhaps with a larger squad and more goals from his midfielders, Xavi will be able to enjoy a few bigger wins and turn some of those draws into victories.

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