FC Barcelona will play its first home game in three months as they welcome relegation-threatened Leganes side at Camp Nou. At Mallorca, the Catalan side delivered a statement win brushing past the opponent with a 4-0 victory, putting a halt to their away-form-criticisms. Lionel Messi, of course, was the architect of the thrashing and the Blaugranas will try to replicate the same form on Wednesday at their fortress, Camp Nou.
Barcelona are enjoying their spell on the top of the table with their eternal rivals, Real Madrid, very closely chasing them. In the games to come, Barcelona take on a relatively easier road than Los Blancos and the next game against Leganes is no different. Pepineros, meanwhile, are coming off a disappointing home loss to Real Valladolid and are just one point ahead of the rock bottom Espanyol. Their already poor attack has become further weaker after they had to sell their the-then top scorer Martin Braithwaite to the same team they are playing tomorrow.
If we refer to Laliga standings, Leganes should be an easy team to beat but, as always, we go for never-underestimate-your-enemy approach. If we refer to the team at large, Leganes sure do concede a lot and, again, it looks like it will be another easy game for Barcelona and, what is more, the leaders are the hosts this time. The signs are ominous for the travelling team especially when they are in dire need of points for safety. They will still try to cause an upset though but is it possible? Let’s look at some statistics from this season.
It is evident that Leganes have poor attack and poor defense, both home and away. While Barcelona too have below average defensive records in away games ( it won’t matter tomorrow), Leganes are no match to them when their away records are compared with Barca’s home records.
Before summarizing head-on analysis, we have spent some time analyzing how players in Los Pepineros compare with each other. Based on data obtained from FBRef and StatsBomb, we have created three critical measures of analysis:
1) Criticial Save Rating in Given Play Time
2) Semi-Critical Save Rating in Given Play Time
3) Overall Defense Effeciency Rate relative to each other.
Barcelona needs to pay very close attention to Nigerian defenders Chidozie Awaziem and Kenneth Omeruo, whose critical save ratings stand out as compared to the other defenders. What it means is that both defenders are attentive of direct threat and are highly responsive to direct danger/targeted shot compared to other defenders. Other defenders are more responsible towards thwarting buildup, which gives them better semi-critical save rating. Overall defensive rating is a bit misleading in a sense it is generated based on stats obtained from a given playing time. Per90 of some defenders are so low, it gives them better overall defensive rating. We will primarily focus on Silva, Awaziem, Omeruo and Bustinga.
Based on various measures of statistics, we have generalized ratings of each attackers of FC Barcelona against every defenders of CD Leganes. Needless to say, anything above the x=0 is relatively advantageous to FC Barcelona and below x=0 is disadvantageous depending on its length from the axis.
Key takeaway from these graphs is pretty obvious even without graph – Barcelona attack is a nightmare to Leganes defense. But, what should worry the Blaugranas the most is the graph which points towards their discomfort in the event of individual defense versus a synchronized Barcelona attack based on what they pair with (say, 2 against 1). Barcelona team work in general is not as great as their individual ratings. Now the figures that we have is an average (Messi-Suarez teamwork is better than Messi-Griezmann) so we need to understand it can get a little worse during their own “sparks.”
HOW SHOULD LEGANES PLAY?
Coming back to defense analysis, they have to stick as a team. They cannot rely on one defender to defend one Barcelona player. Man marking simply doesn’t work in this case. It has to be a dense, numeral (minimum dual) cloud compact zonal marking and that has to stay active throughout the game because Barcelona doesn’t need to have a very great teamwork to thwart this Leganes defense which is why, again, they need to maintain intact defensive shape throughout the game. We would be very surprised if Leganes does not use 4/5 defense related substitutions.
Leganes coach Javier Aguirre rightly fancies 4-4-2 giving him ample defensive depth to deal with quality forwards in laliga. If Barcelona draw 0-0, Aguirre should consider it a job well done. We have overlooked Leganes attack in this piece because it wasn’t threatening enough, and, if Barcelona handle Leganes’ long balls well, they should be just fine.
When we compare defenders from both teams, there is not that significant gap among the defenders – Leganes’ being better in many of them. This is quite understandable because the 19th placed team has conceded just 10 more goals than the league leaders when just quarter of a season is left to play. Gerard Pique’s astonishingly poorer run of form aided by the defensively average fullbacks are the major culprit for this.
Clement Lenglet is back to the squad after his suspension following a red card and is expected to take the place of Araujo in the starting XI. Jordi Alba won’t be available for the game after he received his fifth yellow card of the season and is expected to make way for Junior Firpo. Several La Masia players are in the squad but the main focus will be on whether the coach Quique Setien will give some minutes to Riqui Puig or not. With Sevilla away up next, Setien might be thinking about tweaking his lineup a bit.
To pile up their misery, Leganes will be travelling to Camp Nou without their one of the most important players Óscar Rodríguez Arnaiz as he is suspended. They might be tempted to give rest to few important players as they are visiting Mallorca next and actually have chance of earning some points there.
A 2-point cushion over second placed Real Madrid means there is no any space for slipups. If Barcelona will be in their true form, this should be an early-wrap.
Visca el Barca.
Related tags :