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Barcelona: The reasons for their downward spiral

Xavi's Barcelona side have not only stalled, but they have taken a clear step backwards in their development: they have regressed. They are once again an unrecognisable team. The confident, ambitious and free-scoring team has disappeared, and with it has gone the Europa League, the minimal options to complicate LaLiga Santander for Real Madrid and even the second position is in serious danger.

For years, Barcelona have been drifting through the competitions. This season and the two previous ones have been disappointing and none of the coaches have managed to get things back on track.

Barcelona suffer third home loss in a row for second time in history - Xavi reacts

Neither Ernesto Valverde, nor Quique Setien, nor Ronald Koeman or even Sergi Barjuan have managed to do so, and so far Xavi has not been able to solve the problems, despite the fact that the new coach has certainly shown an impressive improvement.

The figures are there, however. Koeman's record this season was five wins, three draws and five defeats; Sergi Barjuan's was one win and two draws; and the former midfielder has 17 wins, eight draws and seven defeats. The Barcelona side had not lost 12 matches since 2006/2007 and two in a row in LaLiga at home since 15/16.

Just what are this team's problems?

Barcelona don't take effective shots

Against Rayo and against Cadiz, Barcelona had 18 shots, the highest number without scoring in all competitions this season. They are either unsuccessful or, as was the case against the Andalusian team, they find themselves up against an inspired defence or goalkeeper.

No team has hit the post more times this season in LaLiga than the Barcelona side: 18.

The Camp Nou is no longer a fortress

Barcelona have lost their last three home games in all competitions: they lost 2-3 against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League and also went down 0-1 in LaLiga against Cádiz and Rayo Vallecano. Only one time in their history have they had three home defeats in a row in all competitions; three between 1997/98 and 1998/99 with Louis Van Gaal at the helm.

However, never before had they done so in the same season. They have also lost four games in front of their home fans this season in LaLiga, something that has not happened since the 2002/2003 season.

Injuries have hit Barcelona hard

Barcelona have endured an awful year with injuries that have affected all positions and important players. In this final period, the situation has not improved and Xavi has acknowledged that it is largely due to the implementation of a new high-pressing, hard-working system.

"It's a change in the way we play and we haven't played like this for a long time, physically it's noticeable," Xavi declared.

Los Cules have been careless with the ball

In most matches, Barcelona are the ones who control the ball, although, despite having control of possession, they often lose it with careless passes.

Throughout the defeat to Cadiz, the Blaugrana lost the ball 145 times, which was 22 more than their opponent, whereas against Eintracht Frankfurt the disparity was even more alarming, with the German side only losing it 132 teams compared to Barcelona's eye-watering 164 ball-losses.

Barcelona don't score enough goals

Barcelona haven't had such a low goalscoring average since 2001/02. They score an average of 1.65 goals per game. In 48 matches played in all competitions, they have scored 79 goals.

The mid-season signings of Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore were intended to fix this issue, yet Joan Laporta and his technical staff are still looking at more attacking talent for the 2022/23 season.

The fans and the club have seldom been more disconnected

The poor results, the inconsistency and the departure of Messi, have caused the fans to distance themselves from the team. The most overwhelming example was in the Europa League second leg against Frankfurt, when Barcelona admitted that they looked as if they were playing in an away match.

Barcelona concede too many goals

Barcelona are getting used to being behind on the scoreboard, with the physical and emotional pressure that this brings with it. In the last six matches, they have conceded first in five of them: they only escaped with the win against Real Sociedad in San Sebastian. This situation not only requires extra effort, but also shows a clear lack of concentration, intensity and energy in the early stages of the matches.

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