FC Barcelona have almost always been synonymous with attacking football. The Catalan giants are renowned for possessing some of the most technically gifted players that the sport has to offer. Most of the time, these players are either elite forwards or gifted midfielders striving in Blaugrana colors.
However, recent times have definitely seen Barcelona improve their game from a defensive standpoint as well. Gone are the days when a singular injury could disrupt the defensive consistency of a Barcelona team. This season, things are even better.
Despite injuries to both Marc Andre Ter Stegen and Inigo Martinez, Xavi has a dependable set of players to count on as replacements. In fact, according to AS, Xavi already has his defensive lineup for the remainder of 2023 locked in.
In goal, Inaki Pena is now expected to have a long stint as the guardian of the Barcelona goal. Ter Stegen is set to undergo surgery and his time away from the pitch is expected to be lengthy. The Spaniard has thus far not disappointed, and has saved Barcelona on certain occasions already.
In terms of the other four in defense, it now looks certain that the right-back position is locked. Whereas Jules Kounde was previously uncertain about returning to this position, it seems that his recent performance against Atletico Madrid has certainly changed the mind of Barcelona’s coaching staff.
Tracking back, providing width and creativity, Kounde put in a proper shift against Atletico. His approach as a right-back was vital to the victory that followed, and it seems that he is a guarantee for Xavi Hernandez moving forward in that position.
Moreover, the central positions of the defense are covered by Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen. While Inigo Martinez was becoming more and more prominent under Xavi, his recent injury leave him sidelined for at least a month. In his stead, Christensen has proven himself to be a more than worthy replacement.
The left-back position, surprisingly, has been taken over by someone apart from Alejandro Balde. Joao Cancelo is now seen as the most effective starter for Barcelona in that specific position. His creativity, attacking threat as well as defensive awareness have been crucial for Barcelona in the last two games.
In terms of backup, Sergi Roberto and Alejandro Balde will be there to provide depth. Despite Balde originally being seen as the undisputed starting left-back, he has lost his place to an in-form Cancelo given the Spaniard’s declining performances.