How Barcelona’s Great Start to the Season Masks Their Defensive Woes

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The Blaugrana have suffered this term but have managed to turn it around in all but one game despite defensive problems which have already threatened to derail their campaign.

They looked assured enough against a Hoops side feeding off scraps in the early stages, but breakaway attacks brought moments of discomfort for the Catalans, while set pieces were a constant cause for concern.

But while Barca’s back line may have looked unfamilar, the side found themselves faced with a scenario they have come to know only too well in 2012-13 – being behind.

Tito’s team have conceded first in seven of their 13 games so far this term but have discovered a new-found resilience which has seen them win five of those games and lose just once all season.

But back at Camp Nou in Tito’s Champions League debut, Barca were made to work hard once more, this time coming from 2-1 down to claim all three points thanks to two late Messi strikes against Spartak Moscow. And in La Liga a few days after that, the Catalans left it later still as two goals inside the final four minutes sealed a hard-fought win over Granada which looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw as fans began to trickle out of the club’s famous old stadium.

Following the international break came the crazy 5-4 win at Deportivo on Saturday when Tito’s team were persecuted by several strange decisions but also lost concentration and contributed to their own capitulation at the back as Victor Valdes fumbled and Alba put past his goalkeeper late on. It was, said Vilanova, not good enough.

Time will tell, then, whether the problems run deeper, as players return from their spells on the sidelines. In the meantime, Vilanova will be concerned that his team are going behind in games so often this term, but also happy his players have the strength of character and resilience to win from a losing position.

Read Ben Hayward’s complete article “Barcelona’s seven sins: Catalans have been behind in over half their games this season” on goal.com

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