Barcelona have had a very poor start to their 2021/22 UEFA Champions League campaign. They started the campaign by hosting Bayern Munich at home and losing 3-0 On matchday 2, they travelled to face Benfica and lost to them 3-0 as well.
The stats show that The Catalans have been poor defensively under Ronald Koeman, and have also not been effective going forward. They have not been at their best in the Spanish La Liga as well and are currently placed at ninth with just 12 points from their first seven games. With all the financial issues looming around, Ronal Koeman needs his team to improve their performances on the pitch if he wants to gain the support of the fans and get the Spanish club out of these bad times.
After two group games, Barca are at the bottom of Group E with zero points, four points Bayern Munich and Benfica in first and second, and one point behind third-placed Dynamo Kyiv. In order to qualify for the knockout stages from this stage, they will need to overturn their season and try and win all of their remaining games to have strong chances of going through.
The above viz shows Bayern Munich’s shot map in their game against The Catalans. The shot map indicates the Barca defence’s problem, as Bayern were able to take 17 shots in the game. Barcelona did not even have a strong area in their defence, as shots were taken from all around the opposition box. Bayern Munich were able to create a high xG of 3.44 in the match and hit the target eight times.
The above viz is Benfica’s shot map against Barcelona on Matchday 2 of the UCL 2021/22 Group Stage. Barcelona have had a big problem in defence as they have provided the opposition with ample time and space to register many shots in the match. The Eagles were able to take 12 shots in the game as well, hitting the target six times, and like Bayern Munich, also scored three goals. The Portuguese club had an xG of 2.46, meaning that Barcelona are letting their UCL opposition have an xG of 3 on average.
Gerard Pique has been their best player among the centre-backs as he has not been doing mistakes and is using his experience well. Other than him, both Eric Garcia and Ronal Araujo have not been in the best of form and have had poor defensive stats as well.
The above viz shows the stats of Ronal Araujo so far in the two UCL games he has featured in. The black line shows the average of the particular stat of all UCL players. This means that for defensive actions per 90, Araujo has been better than 88% of the players in the Champions League. One can notice that Araujo has had more defensive actions and duels than most players, but when it comes to the successful action or duels won, he is below the average in almost all the other stats. It is fair to say that his statistics show that he has been an average defender, and The Catalans are expected to have better players and stats in their team.
Eric Garcia’s stats have been slightly better than Araujo, but he has also not been top class. The history of B Barcelona and the stature of the club makes everyone expect better performances from them, and their recent matches have worried the Catalan club’s faithful fan base.
These are the xT creation zones of Bayern Munich against Barcelona, which clearly show that the Bavarians created a lot of threats and opportunities in the final third, with a lot of xT created down the middle of the attacking area. The viz clearly shows that there was a lot of space and time for the Bayern players to make an impact in the game.
Similarly, Benfica’s xT creation zones show a similar story, where Barca’s opponents have been able to create a lot of opportunities in the final third. There was high xT creation even inside the penalty area on both sides. Barcelona has been a club that is known to keep possession of the ball for more parts of a football match and allow very few chances to the opposition. This season, it has been a completely different story in the Champions League, as they have conceded six in two games without scoring.
Ronald Koeman will hope that his team comes back stronger after the international break, and is able to get results in their remaining UCL Group E games if they have to have any chances of going through to the knockout stages of the competition.