Barcelona’s disappointing journey through this league but there is one that takes the cake: lack of aim. It is a matter that is discussed even within the squad, as shown by the words of Junior Firpo after the draw against Eibar. Looking at the classification, the azulgrana team is the top scorer in the championship together with Real Madrid, with 30 goals. No news on the front. The problem lies in all those occasions that went into limbo because there is no doubt is that Koeman’s team generates many occasions. In fact, it is the one that makes the most shots per LaLiga game by far from the second Madrid.
All those goals he has let slip are summarized very well by the Barca attackers with Messi leading the way.
The Argentine is not fine despite his seven goals, only two less than Gerard Moreno, Iago Aspas, and his former teammate Luis Suarez. His expected goals xG, in short) say this, that advanced football metric that determines the performance of a player in front of goal and that explains the quality of a shot based on various variables such as placement, distance, the type of pass received, etc. According to this, the one from Rosario should have almost 12 goals. That is to say, he has exactly 4.89 less than he should depend on the quality of those occasions, which makes him currently the most ‘Fallon’ player in the major leagues. Messi always shoots a lot, but his quality allows him to score difficult goals and that increases his ratio. Faults are an example. On the other hand, this course does not find so many facilities to score, not even a direct free kick where he has not scored one of 20 attempts.
And that continues to pull a lot. In fact this course does it in greater abundance. He averages 6.43 shots per game when his average for the last six seasons is 5.46. Its cap in this time period is 5.89. Here all the shots he has made in 2020-21 and their result.
And here the launches that have gone to the door. Messi proves to have a problem when he points to an area that is not the goalkeeper’s left, since only one of his seven goals has come from a different area, and it was a penalty.
An endemic problemBarça’s dependence on the Argentine translates this into their bad overall numbers and the difficulty to close matches, but Messi is not the only one with a deviated sight. Those who accompany him on the offensive plot are not performing as they should before the goal. Braithwaite is the sixth player in the Big 5 with the worst differential between goals and xG and the second in LaLiga. He is one of the forwards who generate the clearest chances and, on the other hand, has 3.3 fewer goals than he should have achieved. The thing does not stop there because Griezmann and Coutinho occupy sixth place in our championship, with 2.3 goals less than expected each. French is also at the top in terms of generation of chances based on its quality.
If we exclude penalties from the equation,
which is a situation that generates a very high xG since it is an easy chance to score and, therefore, it can distort that offensive performance in a certain way, things change but not too much. They slightly reduce their differential but remain in the top positions of the ranking. Messi is still the worst performer, with – 4.1 goals. Braithwaite falls to third place with -2.5 and Coutinho remains sixth with -2.3. Only Griezmann disappears to 19th place with -1.5. Of the four only the Brazilian has not taken penalties. Messi two, with a failure. Braithwaite and ‘Grizzy’ one with two errors. An evolution that collapsed recent history tells us that Barcelona normally performs in front of the goal above the chances they generate, that is, they tend to score more than expected based on the quality of their shots. That is why Barcelona is. With Luis Enrique, Valverde, and even Setién, he had some moments where he did not do it, but in general, he did. With Koeman, that performance has started in negative and, the most worrying thing is that it is given more by the tendency to score fewer goals.
This trend, in the long run, should be reversed, but it is still striking that the start of the Dutch coach is encountering a problem that should not exist. And the best proof of this is Leo Messi.