This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Last Saturday, Barcelona seemingly cruised to a comfortable 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo as the Catalans brushed their opposition aside and successfully snatched all three points away. But the scoreline only tells a small part of the whole story. The bigger picture, however, is much more worrying for the Blaugrana.
This victory was a long time coming for many of the Cules.
Their team has been suffering as of late and the defeat to Levante and the uninspiring goalless draw vs Slavia Prague in the Champions League set the alarm bells ringing.
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But Ernesto Valverde’s team got back on track and returned to winning ways by dispatching a struggling Celta Vigo team in front of their own fans.
A 4-1 victory sounds like a statement that echoes Barcelona’s big return to form, but upon further investigation it’s a far cry from what it’s painted to be.
Three out of four Barcelona goals on the night against Celta Vigo came courtesy of Lionel Messi’s magic, and all three were from set-pieces: one penalty and two free-kicks for the Argentine’s hat-trick.
And were it not for Sergio Busquets’ late goal from the edge of the box, the Catalan giants would have gone three games without a goal from open-play.
They couldn’t score a single one against Slavia Prague and their only goal against Levante before that came from another Messi penalty.
The problem suddenly becomes more than apparent and there are only two clear constants in this team as of late: Messi magic and set-pieces, with both of those often being one and the same aspect.
This thesis is even further solidified when we analyse the clash against Celta Vigo a bit more.
And suddenly, the perceived gulf between the two teams is not as big anymore despite Barcelona being the league leaders and Celta Vigo struggling to avoid the relegation spots in the table, and the talk of dominance becomes questionable.
Not to mention that they have now lost six of their last seven games in the ongoing campaign.
When we also take a look at the possession battle, we can see that Barcelona’s final average of 60.4% has definitely fluctuated throughout the full 90 minutes with the visitors even having a clear edge at certain points in the clash.
By all means, Celta Vigo didn’t just roll over and let the Catalans take the spoils of war.
It was only Messi’s genius that made the difference on the day.
Judging by this, Valverde will definitely have to get back to the drawing board and figure something out because this Barcelona are still far from what they’re supposed to be.