Barcelona lost 5-3 to Arsenal in their first pre-season game of the US tour. In a feisty encounter which saw 34 fouls, or one around every two and half minutes, we’ve got three takeaways to share.
Concern for the fullbacks
Over the course of the 90 minutes, Barcelona played four different fullbacks and three of them were often exploited by the wing play of Arsenal.
Alejandro Balde was on a different level, he was arguably our best player on the night. He defended well and his attacking play was outstanding, he linked up well with Ansu Fati, got into the box on a number of occasions and even hit the woodwork. I have absolutely no concerns about the left-back position at all.
Marcos Alonso who played LB in the first half was tidy enough on the ball, but his lack of pace was constantly exploited by Saka who could have done more damage. He was easily shrugged off the ball in the lead-up to the second goal and didn’t look to have an answer to the speed Arsenal offered. Hopefully, Balde stays healthy and we don’t need to use Alonson as a left-back this year.
On the right side, it’s easy to see why Xavi is insisting on bringing in a new player.
Sergino Dest didn’t receive much playing time last year on loan with AC Milan, and the USMNT defender is hoping to solidify his place in the squad ahead of the new season, I imagine he had aspirations of being the starting RB in Xavi’s favoured XI. He’ll have to do a lot more.
Defensively he got caught up-field far too much, which is strange considering he offered little to nothing in attack. He was wasteful on the ball, often panicking when closed down and losing possession as a result. It’s got to a point where I think the damage is done with Dest, I’m not sure he’s good enough to play in this Barca side, especially when you consider what we have at LB.
Captain Sergi Roberto took Dest’s place in the second half, and while he was better than Dest, the 31-year-old has his limitations and is not the answer as a full-time RB.
If Barcelona fails to make a signing in that position, I think we’ll be seeing Jules Koundé start there, which isn’t his favoured position as a natural central defender.