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Miércoles, 17 de Septiembre de 2014

LIGA BBVA | BARCELONA | DEFENCE

Tito rebuilds the Great Wall of Barça as defence tightens up

The return of Puyol and Piqúe have changed things around at the back for the Catalan club: 18 goals in 13 games conceded to 10 in the last 14.

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Tito Vilanova vuelve a dirigir la sesión del Barcelona
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Juan Jiménez | 18/12/2012

Barcelona have reduced the number of goals they concede by almost half. From an average of 1.38 goals conceded in official matches at the start of the season, in the last two months this has been reduced to 0.71. In the first 13 matches of the season (eight in the League, three in the Champions and two in the Supercopa) Valdes saw the net billowing behind him 18 times, in the last 14 games he's only been beaten 10 times.

"We will try to improve things", said Vilanova humbly in La Coruña, after what was no doubt the worst moment for the team defensively this season. The coach was speaking after the 4-5 game his team won, but with a worryingly insecure defence. Around that time Barcelona had also shipped two goals against Sevilla, two against Madrid and two against Spartak. The Mascherano - Song duo was a fiasco and Vilanova was forced to make changes. Away to Rayo (0-5) Busquets played in the middle and the coach was even bold enough to put Bartra on. The definitive change however came about with the return of Piqué, who had been out with an injured ankle, and Puyol, who after coming back from an earlier injury then dislocated his elbow away to Benfica.

Barcelona then had clean sheets for their next two Champions league games (Spartak and Benfica), in two of their three Cup games and haven't let in more than one goal in their last five league games: Zaragoza (3-1), Levante (0-4), Athletic (5-1), Betis (1-2), Atlético (4-1). In fact, in these 14 games only Scottish club Celtic, apart from Mallorca, have managed to put two past the Catalan giants.

With the statistics at the back improving Barcelona are beginning to look more like Guardiola's team, which was based on an attacking philosophy, but had a suffocating defensive pressure that allowed Valdés to be the least-beaten keeper in the league for a number of seasons.

First 13 games of the season:

Supercopa de España

Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid 3-2 Barcelona

Liga

Barcelona 5-1 Real Sociedad

Osasuna 1-2 Barcelona

Barcelona 1-0 Valencia

Getafe 1-4 Barcelona

Barcelona 2-0 Granada

Sevilla 2-3 Barcelona

Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid

Deportivo 4-5 Barcelona

Champions

Barça 3-2 Spartak

Benfica 0-2 Barça

Barça 2-1 Celtic

The next 14 games, played in the last two months:

Liga

Rayo 0-1 Barcelona

Barça 3-1 Celta

Mallorca 2-4 Barcelona

Barcelona 3-1 Zaragoza

Levante 0-4 Barcelona

Barcelona 5-1 Athletic

Betis 1-2 Barcelona

Barcelona 4-1 Atlético

Champions

Celtic 2-1 Barcelona

Spartak 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona 0-0 Benfica

Copa del Rey

Alavés 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona 3-1 Alavés

Córdoba 0-2 Barcelona

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