Barcelona remain top of the La Liga table, nine points clear of Real Madrid, and their excellent position is largely due to their defensive prowess.
The Catalan side’s solid backline has helped them extend the gap over rivals Real Madrid heading into the most decisive period of the season.
“The first attacking player is the goalkeeper,” said Xavi a few days ago, giving importance to moving the ball out from the back.
Barça is the team that has conceded the fewest goals in the top flight in 2022-23. They have only conceded eight goals in the 24 games played – a record in the competition at this stage of the season. The previous record for goals conceded at this stage of the season was held by Deportivo de La Coruña, who conceded nine in the 1993-94 season.
Barcelona have also kept 18 clean sheets in 24 games, a number that has only been achieved by one other team in the history of La Liga, again by Deportivo in the 1993-94 campaign.
Their defensive stability is particularly evident at Camp Nou, where they have conceded just one goal in the 11 matches they have played at home. Espanyol forward Joselu scored from the penalty spot in December’s Catalan derby.
This has also been evident in the Copa del Rey. In their last two games against Real Madrid (Copa del Rey) and in La Liga against Valencia, they have only conceded one shot on target.
Kieran Quaile | GSFN