FC Barcelona: 5 Areas That Gerard Pique Must Improve for the Coming Season

Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2013

FC Barcelona: 5 Areas That Gerard Pique Must Improve for the Coming Season

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    It is no secret that Barcelona struggled defensively last season, and that is the club’s most immediate concern. But for the back line to function properly, one player must ultimately step up.

    Gerard Pique has long been Carles Puyol’s deputy in defense, but those days are gone. The 26-year-old has the ability to be one of the best defenders in the world, but he must make improvements to his game.

    In this article, we will take a look at the five biggest areas that Pique must improve to be the defender that Barcelona needs for him to be.

Being a Threat in the Box

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    To say that Barcelona’s corner kicks are routine would be an understatement. Every defense knows what it coming when Xavi steps up beside the corner flag and that has to be changed for Barcelona to improve offensively.

    Gerard Pique is the tallest player on Barcelona squad standing at 6’ 4”. However, he is rarely a threat in the box during corner kicks.

    The Barcelona defender must improve his heading accuracy to become a better player, and more importantly, to give the club more options in attack.

    It is very common to see Pique latch onto a cross in the box a few times per game. But the problem is that his headers rarely test the keeper. The chances normally fly wide and possession is given back to the opponents.

    If Pique can begin to become more of a threat from corners not only will he add a new dimension of his own game, but Barcelona will have another option rather than the routine of cycling the ball back to the midfield.

Staying in Defense

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    To say that Barcelona’s corner kicks are routine would be an understatement. Every defense knows what it coming when Xavi steps up beside the corner flag and that has to be changed for Barcelona to improve offensively.

    Gerard Pique is the tallest player on Barcelona squad standing at 6’ 4”. However, he is rarely a threat in the box during corner kicks.

    The Barcelona defender must improve his heading accuracy to become a better player, and more importantly, to give the club more options in attack.

    It is very common to see Pique latch onto a cross in the box a few times per game. But the problem is that his headers rarely test the keeper. The chances normally fly wide and possession is given back to the opponents.

    If Pique can begin to become more of a threat from corners not only will he add a new dimension of his own game, but Barcelona will have another option rather than the routine of cycling the ball back to the midfield.

Defending Set Pieces and Crosses

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    Despite his size Pique has proven to be not extremely capable at defending the ball in the air. Though he has made some incredible clearances, he has also been taken advantage of at times.

    With Pique and Sergio Busquets being the only Barcelona players of size, defending the ball in the air comes unfairly down to the two of them. Sadly enough for Barcelona neither is overly impressive in the air.

    But with Pique being a true defender he must improve this area of his game as soon as possible.

    There is a reason why Barcelona is weak against set pieces and it all comes down to their inability to defend balls in the air. This is where Pique must step up his performances and become a force in front of his own goal.

    If Pique can begin to show that is more than capable of dealing with aerial threats, Barcelona can start to control the bleeding during set pieces. Busquets must improve as well, but it all starts with Gerard Pique.

He Must Be More Consistent

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    One of the most bothersome aspects of Gerard Pique for Barcelona fans is his inconsistency. Pique must become more consistent with his play or he will never reach his full potential.

    When Pique first returned to Barcelona he was one of the best defenders on the planet. His defensive ability and strength paired up perfectly with Puyol and the duo was a wall at the back.

    But fast-forward to today and that no longer appears to be the case.

    Gerard Pique has become extremely inconsistent to the point where no one is really sure which Pique will show up on a given night. At times he shows his best ability and is one of the best defenders in the world, but days later he can make several mistakes.

    The 26-year-old cannot continue to be hot and cold with his performances. He must lock down his play and get into a rhythm of playing his best, or his off nights could continue to cost Barcelona severely.

Pique Must Become a Leader

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    Now we get to the most important improvement that Gerard Pique must make this season. He must become the leader of Barcelona’s backline or the defense will not survive.

    Carles Puyol spent many seasons anchoring the defense with Pique as his partner. Since Puyol’s injuries have caught up with him, Pique has not been the defender that Barcelona fans know he can be.

    It is clear that Pique is missing having a true defensive leader beside him, but now he must become that leader.

    At 26 years old Pique can no longer look to Puyol for help. He can’t look for someone to tell him what to do anymore. Gerard Pique must now be the man that all eyes go to when the defense needs guidance.

    He has spent several years learning from Carles Puyol and it is now time to use what he has been taught. Barcelona’s defense now belongs to Gerard Pique it is imperative that he begins to be a real leader.

    After their disappointing losses to Bayern Munich this past season, Pique had these words to say via The Guardians Daniel Taylor.

    "We have to make some decisions in the summer. We are not the best any more. Other teams are. Perhaps we need to work harder. That was hard out there – a bitterly disappointing night." 

    Will these words push Gerard Pique to finally be the defender that fans know he can be? Barcelona will certainly be hoping so.

     

    What improvements must Pique and the Barcelona defense make? Can Pique be the leader that Barcelona needs? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

     

    Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on FC Barcelona and all Spanish football.