Liga – Round 16 – Suddenly human
By David, bettingexpert.com | Edited
Wasn’t this supposed to be the best team in the World? Beaten by Getafe? Attentive punters would have noted Barcelona’s consistent and unmistakable contrast between results at home and those on the road. This week they anticipate a match with Rayo Vallecano due to the World Club Cup commitments later in December.
Barcelona – Rayo Vallecano
It’s true Guardiola’s men were fresh from a victory at the San Siro against Milan. A good Milan as well. Yet it has been an atypical result for them. In the past two years, despite being the ones during which they matured and did seem the best football can offer, they have only managed one big win on away turf in Europe. That was against struggling Panathinaikos in Greece.
It would certainly have been no scandal if they drew at the San Siro last week and in all fairness it would have been a more just result for what Milan did. They did have a bill to settle though after the undeserved 2-2 draw back home. There they really made it hard for the Rossoneri and should have emerged rightful winners.
The contrast is striking even when we land back to the Liga where they have managed just half the number of points away than those at the Nou Camp. Even teams like Valencia and Levante have fared better on the road. They won only twice in six attempts and none were even close to impressive. 0-1 victories against Sporting Gijon and Granada, currently boasting a loot of twelve points each and both within relegation waters.
In their last three games away from friendly crowds, at Granada, Athletic Bilbao and Getafe, Barcelona have only scored one goal during open play.
We cannot extend this form to their home displays however. And realistically we cannot speak of drama either. It is a problem. That’s for sure and stats prove it. Guardiola has to deal with it if they are to reduce that six-point gap, starting from the trip to the Bernabeu in two weeks’ time, the toughest of away games yet for the Blaugrana. However, it still is the team which best interprets this game and whenever they were really motivated and had the desire to win a match they never really struggled to do that.
We may take a page out of Ibrahimovic’s book to explain Barca’s surprise downfall in certain encounters. He described the magnificent trio Messi, Iniesta and Xavi as schoolboys, obeying their master Guardiola without ever questioning why they had to do something the way he said it should. They jumped when he said they should and ran in one direction when ordered that. Perhaps that discipline is the secret of their success. Yet it can betray a weakness in character which they overcome with ease when supported by their fans but struggle to fight off in hostile environments.
They seem to need the extra motivation to perform when traveling and it has never made itself lacking on the big occasions. The Milan match last week was further proof of that and we can always go back a few months to the games they played at the Bernabeu. With their away record you would have thought that would be too much yet they fought on and were often the better side even in the den of the fiercest of lions. It’s just that Getafe does not really inspire the same feelings.
Comfortable in mid-table, Sandoval’s Rayo Vallecano will hope things are as bad as they look for Barcelona though. The team are coming from a good showing against another top dog, Valencia, but the 1-2 loss was at home. At the Bernabeu they lost 6-2 and gave respite to struggling Villareal at the Madrigal by losing there 2-0.
Verdict: Barcelona -2.5
Barcelona’s away complex is restricted to those games which inspire very little motivation. They still are the ones to beat on the international stage but will need to learn psychological consistency if they want to prevent Real Madrid from snatching their title away. Back home and under pressure they should not struggle to stamp their feet down and show who’s boss.
Obscure Stat - Barcelona are 14-0-1 at home against promoted clubs over the last 6 seasons, with 9 of those wins, coming by 3 goals or more.
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