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Six things Barcelona need to fix ahead of Porto clash in the UCL

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Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Barcelona have no time to reflect upon the latest 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano as the players are supposed to return to training on Sunday to prepare for the upcoming UEFA Champions League home game against FC Porto.

The Blaugrana’s 0-1 defeat at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk has made life difficult for the team in the competition and anything but a win would be counted as a failure.

At present, Barcelona occupy the top spot after four games and nine points. Now, it must be noted that Porto have accumulated a similar tally, although the Portuguese team is only lagging due to an inferior goal difference.

Then there are Shakhtar with six points. This means if Barcelona lose or even play a draw against Porto, their fate of qualifying for the knockouts will be decided in the final matchweek.

So as the team prepares for a must-win showdown against FC Porto, here are six things that they need to work on to get a positive outcome. Bear in mind that these measures largely revolve around key players and how they perform in midweek.

Do not concede early

Barcelona are starting to gain a reputation for being a team that likes to concede an early goal. Including the recent outing against Rayo Vallecano, their opponents have taken the lead in six out of the 14 League matches played.

Barcelona have conceded the first goal more often this season. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Teams such as Villarreal, Celta Vigo, Mallorca, Granada, Alaves, and Rayo Vallecano have consistently forced Xavi’s squad into comeback situations, some of which remained incomplete. 

This includes Bryan Zaragoza’s double strike in the 1st and 29th minutes against Granada and Omorodion’s goal in the first-minute agianst Alaves. If Barcelona are to assert their authority, they must make sure not to concede the first goal.

Goalkeeper needs to be in top form

It is to be noted that during the 2022/23 season, Marc-Andre ter Stegen managed 11 clean sheets from the first 14 games. Currently, he has six clean sheets in 13 appearances. 

Meanwhile, his teammate Inaki Pena, despite delivering a commendable performance, also couldn’t stop Unai Lopez from breaking the deadlock. It is not to say that goalkeepers are at fault, but there needs to be some kind of authority, to say the least.

Look more competitive

It’s one thing that Barcelona have been hampered by injuries this season, but comparing their performance from the previous season, signs are pretty worrying. 

Last season, the Blaugrana were a force to reckon with, especially away from home, winning five of their six away games in the league.

This season, they have tallied three draws. This is a little concerning, but it must also be remembered that they have only lost one home game at home this season.

Rely more on midfielders

Barcelona need to rely more on their midifelders (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

Barcelona have always been known to have match-winning forwards, but given the circumstance, they must rely on their midfield engine to decide the tempo of the game.

This season, Barcelona’s midfield has faced challenges, particularly with injuries affecting key players like Gavi. Yet, it is very important for Xavi to entrust the midfield reins to the revitalized duo of Pedri and De Jong, with support from Ilkay Gundogan and Fermin Lopez. 

More scorers

Barcelona forwards have struggled to have a stronghold so far. Joao Felix, for instance, has been unable to find the back of the net in the League since September 16 and in the Champions League since September 19, enduring a goal drought spanning 12 games.

This struggle is not unique to the Portuguese, as Rapinha, too, has failed to mark a goal since September 26. 

Lamine Yamal scored his last and only goal on October 8 against Granada. Furthermore, while Ferran Torres has made crucial goal contributions in Europe, he has been unable to replicate that success in the league since September 16.

Feed Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski is not getting enough services from his teammates (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

One thing that has been hurting Barcelona the most is the lack of services for Robert Lewandowski. Without proper assistance, the Poland international looks like a mere spectator, meaning that it is of utmost importance for Barcelona to bring him back into the game.

In the match against Rayo Vallecano, the veteran forward registered just one attempt on target. Furthermore, in the encounter with Real Sociedad, he failed to muster any shots on goal. 

Against Real Madrid, he managed just one shot on target, while facing Mallorca, he unleashed two attempts on goal. While these numbers are truly substandard for Barcelona, it shows he is not getting enough assistance from his teammates.

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