Barcelona: Setién has a defensive problem he needs to fix
The new manager landed during the week and has plenty to figure out but of utmost importance is fixing Barcelona's defensive weaknesses.
One of Quique Setien's earliest challenges as the manager of Barcelona is to solve the defensive problems that have plagued them this season. Setien has to do it without Jean Clair-Todibo, who was loaned to Schalke 04 recently and so must make do with three central defenders: Gerard Piqué, Clément Lenglet y Samuel Umtiti.
Valverde's side struggled defensively with 23 goals in 19 games, 1.2 per game. That figure is not a title-challenging one with Real Madrid and Atlético only conceding 12 each and Sevilla, in fourth, conceding 18.
These numbers are higher than Valverde's previous title-winning season with just 9 at the same point in 2017-18 and 20 conceded last year.
Defensive strength is not something Setien is known for though and the manager has a challenge to improve those numbers especially with his inability to player around with different matchings given the options at his disposal. For example, he played with three central defenders at Betis, which seems impossible with just three in the squad unless he is planning on converting a central midfielder.
Piqué and Lenglet as the starting pair seems fixed as the default but with the lack of competition for either of these places, their peformance has dropped. Todibo left almost as soon as Setien landed in Barcelona and Umtiti is good but unreliable given his injury problems and the lingering, long-term concerns over his knee.
Another option is to look to the Barcelona B team where Ronald Araujo is currently playing. He has already debuted for the first team this season but that outing ended with a red card.
Setien has plenty to figure out but foremost is Barcelona's frailty at the back.
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