Barcelona preseason a cause of poor start

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24: Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona with the ball during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF at Camp Nou on September 24, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24: Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona with the ball during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF at Camp Nou on September 24, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Gerard Pique points to preseason as a factor contributing to Barcelona’s poor start to the season.

Gerard Pique spoke following Barcelona’s victory at home against Villarreal. One of the questions he was asked was to explain why his club have gotten off to an inauspicious start especially on defense.

According to Diario Sport, Pique said, “When things don’t go well, the players are to blame. There have been some factors, like preseason, with so much traveling, which didn’t help and makes it hard to find your form. But we’re obliged to win all the times. That’s how it is and there are no excuses.”

Preseason did involve a lot of travel for Barcelona. They went to Japan to play against Vissel Kobe, the current club of former club legend, Andres Iniesta, and traveled to the United States to play two matches against Napoli in a sort of promotional alliance between La Liga and Serie A.

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While a preseason full of travel can definitely be a factor, it is not the main culprit that caused Barcelona to drop eight points so far this season.

The team looks disjointed in every facet of the game. More so on the road than at home but even at the Camp Nou where they blew out Betis and Valencia, there were moments where the opposition got back into the game.

Their latest result against Villarreal proved difficult despite going up by two goals in the first half before Santi Cazorla pulled one back.

Preseason does not also fully explain why the defense has been so porous. Through the first six games of the season, Barcelona conceded 10 goals and have yet to keep a clean sheet. It’s their worst start since the 2008/09 season.

According to Marca, at this same juncture, Barcelona only conceded seven goals. The year prior, Ernesto Valverde’s first season as manager, the club only conceded two goals. A small sample size but the defense has gotten significantly worse under Valverde.

Marca also point out that the defense is one area of the pitch that Valverde has not tinkered with. Semedo, Pique, and Lenglet have been mainstays since the start of the season and Jordi Alba’s only been out due to injury. That is more cause for concern because one cannot point to a lack of understanding between the players as an excuse.

The only clean sheet Barcelona kept is against Borussia Dortmund and were extremely fortunate to do so.

Valverde, Pique, and the rest of the defense need to sort it out because with Messi’s absence, Suarez’s struggles, and Griezmann’s slow integration to the squad, Barcelona may not be as prolific up front as past editions.

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Blaming preseason may work to explain some of their struggles early on but it soon won’t be once more games are played.