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Barcelona’s most compelling opponent this season: The woodwork

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Photo by Gerard Franco via Imago

Not many gave Ronald Koeman a chance when he first arrived in Barcelona. With the club under visible turmoil, he inherited a team that had suffered from a massive defeat in their last game. Adding to the misery was the captain, Barcelona’s greatest ever player, formally expressing his desire to leave.

It’s hard to imagine that in a situation like this, a manager in a top job would want to come to Barca, but that is exactly what Koeman did. He left the Netherlands, a team he had been preparing for the last two years, just before their big test in the Euros, which was later postponed for a year due to the ongoing pandemic. The reasoning was simple: he had prepared his whole managerial career for his dream job at Barcelona and there was no way he would turn it down, whatever be the dynamic at the club.

The start to life under the dutch manager may have been slow, but, with time Koeman found a way to turn the situation around – he found a way to maximize what was available to him, he found his ideal XI, and a system to get consistent results. What we see now is what he has built over the season.

Koeman has managed to mould Barcelona back into a team that attacks and defends fluidly, ‘The Barca Way’ as they call it. But something that he has not been able to address, something that fascinates fans around the world is exactly why and how does Barça, as a team, fail to finish the plethora of chances created, with a large amount of them hitting the woodwork.

After the game against Huesca, Barcelona has now managed to hit the woodwork a record 29 times this season. The reason why a player strikes the post or the crossbar cannot be justified by a single cause, as it is largely situational. It’s a contribution of factors including poor shot accuracy, poor finishing and last but most importantly, luck.

For Barcelona as well, there are multiple reasons as to why the number is as high as it is. While a good part of it is down to luck, a significant chunk is also down to poor finishing from certain areas on the pitch.

As we approach the business end of the campaign, fans would be hopeful that the number stays at where it is, and Barca can leave their finishing woes behind them to end the season on a high.

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