Three defeats in their last four - what's going wrong at Barcelona?

Barcelona are losing their fear factor

Virendra Karunakar
Published 03/04/2013 12:32 by Virendra Karunakar.

Barcelona have lost three of their last four games and aren't looking the unstoppable force they once were. 

February has traditionally been the Catalans achilles heel every season. They lose more games in February than any other month of the season. 

This year's been no different. First, came the upset at the San Siro in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 when a young and athletic Milan team employed the 'Catenaccio' to such good effect to nullify Barcelona's 'tiki-taka' beating them 2-0 in the process. 

Then, a humiliating 3-1 loss at home to Real Madrid in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. In between the two defeats came a less than impressive 2-1 victory over Sevilla. Their most recent set back came against Madrid as they made it back-to-back defeats to their great rivals. 

Before the Milan game, they had only lost two games the entire season across all competitions. The only other team to boast such a record was Bayern Munich.

The problem is it's not so much that Barcelona are losing games, but more the way they are being defeated. 

Chelsea, en-route to winning the Champions League last year, showed that the side from the Nou Camp can be beaten when putting bodies behind the ball in hope of sniffing out their intricate passing. 

In the two recent defeats, their stalwarts Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi have been isolated and reduced to passengers onboard a Barcelona ship that couldn't make any headway past some very well organised defences.

Milan had a game plan that involved stuffing the middle of the park with bodies and inviting Barcelona to attack from the flanks. No way through the middle, the Catalans did try bombarding forward through Dani Alves and Jordi Alba, but were stopped in their tracks as the two wide players of Milan also dropped back to support their full-backs. 

Not only was the defence organised superbly, the athleticism and pressing when Barcelona were on the ball was relentless. In addition, Milan looked more threatening in attack employing a very direct approach using the pace of Stephan El Shaarawy with Riccardo Montolivo directing things from midfield. The Italian job was so perfect that the visitors barely had a shot on target. 

Madrid saw what happened and went into their second leg semi-final clash at the Nou Camp with the exact same tactics. Perhaps not so efficient as the Italians, but boasting much more firepower with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria, Real tore the hosts to shreds playing on the counter with pace exploiting the gaps behind the full backs. In this game too, Barcelona's chances at goal were kept to a minimum. 

They were psyched out by the Milan loss and tried playing a more direct game against Madrid. But where they faltered was in failing to realise that they don't have the personnel for such a tactic and that Madrid are just brilliant on the counter. 

So, when they lost the ball, before they could count to 10, the ball had been released to Ronaldo and Di Maria up front and their centre-backs were under attack. Playing a very high line, Carles Puyol and Gerrard Pique were turned inside out and simply had no answer to Real's attacking prowess.

Barcelona don't have a Plan B. They also don't have the services of their manager Tito Vilanova who is in the USA receiving treatment for cancer. With confidence low and in need of a different approach.

Barcelona have taken some body blows in the last couple of weeks that have left them teetering on the ropes. 

They always recover and may do likewise this season and their lead in the La Liga should see them home. Either way, they need a different approach and it looks like the team is coming to the end of a dominant cycle and will have to find an alternate approach to winning as they are getting predictable and hence out-thought by their opponents.  


DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeFootball Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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