Barcelona remains one of the most dominant football clubs on the planet, but not everything is perfect at the Catalan club. After failing to strengthen the defense it is expected that the club will struggle at times this season.
But the lack of a new center-back is not the only issue Barcelona will face this season. There are several other weaknesses that will be singled out by opponents.
In this article we will take a look at the five biggest weaknesses of La Blaugrana that will be exploited this season and why Barcelona must seek to fix their issues before it’s too late.
Barcelona’s inability to defend set pieces and corner kicks comes as no surprise to most football fans. What is shocking, however, is that a club the size of Barcelona is one of the worst teams in football at defending set pieces.
Whether it is Barcelona’s lack of height, trouble marking attackers or pure bad luck, it is clear that the Catalans struggle.
In a statistical analysis by Benjamin Pugsley of Barcablaugranas.com, it was revealed that Barcelona conceded 12 set piece and corner goals in La Liga and the Champions League last season.
That means that set piece and corner goals accounted for 21 percent of all conceded goals for the Catalan club.
In fact, set pieces may be the biggest weakness that opponents will look to exploit against Barcelona this season. Every club knows that they can score against Barcelona with a set piece and opponents are now looking for every chance they can get.
Set piece chances may be the most important moment of any match for Barcelona’s opponents, and unless the issue is addressed soon the Catalan could start paying an even heftier price.
When it comes to attacking full-backs Barcelona has the best pairing around, hands down. However, what Dani Alves and Jordi Alba provide in the ability to go forward they severely lack in defensive production.
The Barcelona full-backs are terrorizing to opposing defenders but a blessing to attackers.
Whenever Barcelona loses the ball, opponents look to counter quickly and take advantage of the Blaugrana defense, which almost always features only two center-backs with Alves and Alba being caught behind the ball.
Their problem with being caught out of position has severely cost Barcelona in the past and begs the question—are their forward runs worth the risk?
If Alves and Alba were able to time their attacks in order to always have one defender back in defense then Barcelona would be much more organized at the back. However, that simply doesn’t look like it will ever happen.
The full-backs are more a part of the offense than they are the defense. Opponents will continue to take advantage of their lack of commitment to defending and Barcelona will continue to suffer.
By far the most well-known weakness of Barcelona is their inability to defend counter attacks. It has been the bane of their existence for several seasons now and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
Barcelona is a team that does not boast great pace in defense. Couple that with the fact that almost every player is past midfield when in possession and you have a recipe for disaster.
Any time La Blaugrana turns the ball over everyone is instantly out of position to defend against a counter attack. This has led to many brilliant goals being conceded and has to be fixed very soon.
Whenever an opponent wins the ball back against the Catalans they have one thing on their mind. As soon as possession is one back the ball is pushed forward at blistering pace and Barcelona is left scrambling to recover.
Opponents rarely see the ball against Barcelona but when they everyone knows what is about to happen.
Several factors contribute to Barcelona’s weakness of defending counter attacks. However, it is the price that they must pay for their Tiki-Taka style of offense.
It will continue to be an issue as long as possession based offense remains the pillar of Barcelona and opponents will make counter attacking their number one goal every match.
Those who regularly watch Barcelona in action will probably agree that for large portions of the match the passing game gets to be a bit boring. But it can also be very dangerous as well.
Barcelona’s Tiki-Taka style of play utilizes short, quick passes to create space and make holes in the defense. However, recently defenders are trying to counter that by not committing to defend far outside the box.
Quite often the Catalans seem far too content to just pass the ball and keep possession and often neglect to take chances on goal.
It can become worrisome when Barcelona keep the ball for 10 minutes only to never test the keeper and lose the ball, forcing them to defend a counter attack.
This all comes from a lack of urgency that has been plaguing La Blaugrana for a while now. The team has to be more direct in front of goal if they want to score goals or else they are just prolonging the inevitable.
Defenders are daring Barcelona to be more direct and take chances. The old Barcelona was feared because that was exactly what they did, but the new Blaugrana seem to have lost that.
This summer it was imperative that Barcelona sign a new center-back but that did not happen. The reason to buy a new defender was clear—La Blaugrana was struggling to purely defend.
Gerard Pique has been the focal point of the backline but he cannot do it himself. Javier Mascherano has proved to be a decent partner but still suffers from positioning issues.
Marc Bartra may be the best option for the Catalans but he is not yet at the point to play a major role, whereas Captain Carles Puyol is not the player he used to be.
When looking at the defense as a whole it really is incomplete.
Whether defending the counter, a set piece or just one-on-one Barcelona struggles. If the Catalans cannot return to the days when clean sheets were expected then success will elude La Blaugrana.
Above all else opponents are no longer as afraid of Barcelona as they used to be. They know they can score goals if they play well and it is that weakness that could do Barcelona in.
What are Barcelona's biggest weaknesses? What areas must be addressed this season? Can La Blaugrana still be successful this year? Leave your thoughts and comments below!
Tre' Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on Barcelona and all Spanish football.