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Analysing Barcelona’s 1-0 victory over Las Palmas in depth

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Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona’s recent 1-0 win over Las Palmas involved a performance deserving of a more flattering scoreline. Xavi’s men were on top for the better part of the game, but a fascinating tactical battle kept the result in doubt until the final whistle.

The visitors went down to ten men midway through the first half and were forced to play with a disadvantage for the rest of the game. Yet, they did not make it simple for the Catalans as only a solitary Raphinha strike helped them take home three points.

After a comprehensive analysis of Barcelona on the night, the strengths, weaknesses, and standout players involved, Barça Universal brings you a deeper analysis of the team’s performance and the tactical battle that unfolded on the night.

Xavi’s lineup on the night spoke a lot about his intentions to maintain the team’s momentum and push for three points as he opted to deploy his strongest available XI.

Marc Andre Ter Stegen started in goal with Inigo Martinez and Pau Cubarsi lining up defensively in Ronald Araujo’s absence. Jules Kounde and Joao Cancelo stuck to their roles at full-back.

With Andreas Christensen unavailable, Ilkay Gundogan was paired with Sergi Roberto and Fermin Lopez in midfield while Lamine Yamal and Raphinha flanked Robert Lewandowski in attack.

Xavi’s XI against Las Palmas

The match stuck to the expected script right from the get-go as both teams looked to build from the back. The common approach caused both sides to press high and individually.

Until Las Palmas’ Alvaro Valles was sent off in the 25th minute, Barcelona had already recovered seven balls in the opponent’s half. Moreover, the move that caused Valles’ expulsion also stemmed from a recovery at the edge of midfield.

Las Palmas, however, were not far behind as they recorded five recoveries in the same duration. The first third of the match, thus, was dominated by both sides imposing high pressure. The visitors’ plan, however, changed from there.

Barcelona’s high pressure
Las Palmas retaliating with equal pressure

Cubarsi once again standing out

An additional factor that must be noted at this conjuncture is the vital role Pau Cubarsi played in Barcelona’s buildup, especially in the aforementioned period of high pressure.

During the pressure-cooker situation, it was the teenage sensation’s magic that helped him find the best pass despite the opposition’s best efforts to cut off the ball. His pass map from the first half shows a range many defenders cannot accumulate even after five games.

Cubarsi‘s first-half passmap

In addition to his flawless passes on the field, Cubarsi was equally instrumental in switching the play to the opposite flank. His four long balls attempted all reached their destination, and in fact, two created big chances.

Cubarsi switching the play with ease

All his contributions only go to prove his technical prowess and comfort on the ball and power, all of which contribute to his ability to dictate the play.

Returning to the topic of Las Palmas’ change in strategy after the red card, Cubarsi’s importance once again pops up.

After all, he linked directly with the attack innumerable times to create a threat and threaded balls through to the midfield, bypassing Las Palmas’ midfield unit with heavy, perfectly weighted balls.

A look at Barcelona’s overall pass-map from the night only emphasises his importance on the distribution and progression.

Barcelona’s pass network vs Las Palmas

All in all, Cubarsi’s quality and Barcelona’s overall harmony caused a tangible improvement in the team’s dominance in possession. In fact, the Catalans completed 29 sequences of over ten passes in the 90 minutes.

The Fermin – Raphinha factor

Barcelona’s improved incisiveness in attack can also be particularly linked with two presences on the field – Fermin Lopez and Raphinha. After all, the improvement can be narrowed down to the change in the higher part of the field where the duo provide more verticality than horizontal passes.

For starters, Raphinha and Lopez are tireless in their pressure and made six high-recoveries in the final third on the night.

Further, they constantly lurk in the spaces behind the defence, pulling defenders and creating spaces for the midfielders to exploit. In fact, even Barcelona’s goal arose in a similar manner.

When Pedri and Frenkie de Jong return, Barcelona must thus look to keep at least one of the two on the field. They may not be as flashy as their teammates but offer qualities others cannot on the field.

Felix’s impact

The impact of Joao Felix’s introduction is also worth discussing in the deep dive. The Blaugranas were controlling the game and had a good offensive flow from the get-go, yet, it was only after Felix arrived that they could break the deadlock.

Felix’s magical assist

The Portuguese star’s ball over the top for the Brazilian was simply brilliant.

Further, he also created a sensational chance for Ferran Torres with his magic. He should indeed have netted the team’s second and lacked finesse in front of goal, uncharacteristic of a player of his quality.

While his irregularity does not place him well to be a fundamental player or starter, he is very potent as an impact player off the bench with serious quality.

Sergi Roberto’s improvement in form

The final note is on Sergi Roberto who is currently in one of his peaks in terms of form. He started as an interior and then played as a defensive midfielder, and surprisingly shone in both.

After all, he perfectly understands the Barça game and knows what is expected of each position. In 81 minutes, he completed the second-most interventions, 64 of 70 attempted passes, and five recoveries.

Things to improve

Despite their relatively dominant performance in attack, Barcelona had some deficiencies that they must look to improve on in the final third. First, to open the field more and second, to complete 2 side-by-side tilts before looking for the space.

After all, they should have capitalized more on Las Palmas’ decision to drop to a 1-4-4-1 after the expulsion.

Editor: Adithya EshwarlaVisuals: KlipDraw, Effmatch, Gusfop

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