Since returning to Camp Nou, coach Xavi has determined that his top goal is to find stability. In previous seasons, especially last season, Barca often showed opposite faces. They can win very bold and impressive victories against strong teams like Real Madrid (with a score of 4-0 at the Bernabeu), Atletico (4-2) or Bilbao (4-0), but also You can lose foolishly against inferior opponents like Cadiz (0-1), Rayo (1-2) or Betis (0-1).
That is very clearly shown on the FIFA Elo rankings. The difference between Barca’s best matches and Barca’s worst matches last season was up to 100 points. But this season, that gap is only 40, showing that there is no longer a “heaven – sea” difference in the performances of the Catalunya team.
One of Barca’s biggest problems last season was their inability to finish off their opponents and close the game early. Many times Barca let the opponent equalize, even going back upstream after taking the lead until the last moments. This season, coach Xavi has succeeded in reversing the trend, when it is Barca who often get the decisive goals at the end of the game, typically the goal of a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid at Camp. Franck Kessie’s Nou.
The statistics confirm it. Almost half of Barca’s goals in La Liga so far (29 of 64) have been scored in the last 15 minutes of each half. In the opposite direction, they have only conceded 4 goals in these times (compared to 9 in the rest), and none of them changed the overall result.
Xavi is considered a representative symbol of the school of ball control, and everyone implicitly believes that, when he returns to lead Barca, he will continue to pursue the successful “pass to death” style of play. team badge. But not really. Although Xavi tries to dodge, it is a fact that his Barca this season have played the ball more directly, with more long passes and fewer short passes than before.
Statistics show that, compared to two seasons ago, Barca this season passes up to 100 fewer passes per game. This loss mainly comes from a decrease in the number of short passes (from 350 to 261 per game), while the number of long passes has increased (42 to 53). When needed, players in the back like goalkeeper Ter Stegen or defenders Araujo, Kounde are not afraid to put the ball straight up for Lewandowski or the wingers.
At one point, Ter Stegen’s form was in doubt and his future at the Camp Nou became uncertain. But the German goalkeeper has bounced back strongly this season and it can be said that he is the most important factor in Barca’s success in La Liga in the 2022/23 season. The German goalkeeper has just equaled the record for most clean sheets in a season (25) with Deporto legend Liano. That means just keep a white net for one more game, he will set a new record. At Camp Nou, Ter Stegen is an undefeated wall; he kept 15 clean sheets in 17 home games since the start of the season, also a record.
With just 13 goals conceded and a nearly 90% save rate, Ter Stegen is also far ahead of the rest of the goalkeepers in Europe’s top 5 leagues in terms of efficiency (no single goalkeeper has a save rate of 80 or more). %). On average, the opponent needs 23 shots to beat him. Combined with Barca’s third-lowest number of shots per game in Europe (8.6 shots per game, behind only Lille, 8.4, and Man City, 7), beating Ter Stegen back to the top. become an almost impossible task this season.
VALUE OF 1 GOAL
Win a match 10-0, you destroy the opponent. Win 10 games 1-0, you destroy the tournament. That’s the favorite maxim of Jose Mourinho-style pragmatists. Who would have thought that one day, Barca itself would be a typical example of that maxim. This season, Xavi’s team has 11 wins with a score of 1-0, equaling the record of La Liga once held by Valencia (season 1988/89), Atletico Madrid (2017/18 and Sevilla (2020/21)). It is worth mentioning that, among the three teams mentioned above, no team finished the season with the first place.
With 64 goals, Barca is the team with the highest number of points/goals in La Liga. This index of Xavi’s teachers and students is 1.32, while, for comparison, Real Madrdi’s is only 0.98. It is also the highest number achieved by a champion since Valencia in the 2001/02 season.
This season, Barca introduced a brand new “trident” on the attack, including two rookies, Lewandowki, Raphinha and the old Dembele. Together, this trio has contributed more than half of Barca’s goals in La Liga (33/64), of which Lewandowki alone contributed 21 goals, Raphinha has 7 and this number in Dembele is 5.
However, it is also impossible not to mention the special contributions of Pedri, who plays in midfield. The young Spaniard scored only 6 goals, but brought the team up to 12 points. He is also the author of the only goal in 4 matches. No other player in La Liga has done the same thing as Pedri.