Aneota Stalemate Highlights Barcelona’s Midfield Problems

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Barcelona extended their winless streak at the Estadio Aneota this past weekend as Real Sociedad thoroughly outplayed them.

The game ended 1-1, but most would argue that it was an unfair representation of Sociedad’s performance as the San Sebastian outfit deserved to grab all three points.

One surprising stat in the game was how much Real Sociedad saw the ball. Barca is known for their tendency to dominate possession stats, but they saw just 42% of the ball against La Real.

Luis Enrique’s side didn’t particularly pose a threat going forward against Sociedad as they managed just three shots on target – La Real had double of those shots.

So far this season, Barca’s greatest strength has seemingly turned into a weakness. Barcelona’s inability to run games from the middle of the park in La Liga has seen them struggle this term (by their standards).

Barca usually gets the job done in midfield before putting goals past their opponents, but the club has seemingly begun to feel the effects of Xavi’s exit as they’ve been quite weak in midfield recently.

Xavi is arguably the best passer of the ball in the Blaugrana’s history, his mild decline and departure were always going to take their toll on Barca’s style of play, but Enrique should have created a contingency plan for that during the summer transfer window.

Iniesta’s absence has also been felt in recent weeks with the Barcelona faithful eager to see him return to the first-team action. His ability to control the pace of games as well as to create chances from nothing has been utterly missed.

Ivan Rakitic seems to be the best player in Barcelona’s midfield trio at the moment with Sergio Busquets and Andre Gomes putting in below-par displays. The service to Messi, Neymar and Suarez has been particularly poor recently which has resulted in the deadly triumvirate’s dip in form.

Barcelona hasn’t utilised the January transfer window frequently over the past couple of years, although they may have to bring in midfield reinforcements should their current woes refuse to go away.

The Catalan giants play host to league leaders Real Madrid in the famed Clasico derby on December 3rd. A win against Madrid would see Barcelona reduce the gap between them and the top of the table to two points, but a loss could potentially deliver the final blow to Barcelona’s league campaign so early in the season.

The home crowd at the Camp Nou will be looking to galvanise their side against Madrid in a bid to maximise the effects of the home advantage – that, though, will prove to be futile if Luis Enrique fails to sort out the problems in the middle of the park prior to the fixture.

Andreas Iniesta is expected to feature against Los Blancos which will be a big boost to Barcelona’s chances of a derby victory. Barca has missed his exquisiteness and will be hoping that he can produce the goods on the 3rd of December.

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