Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez may be the deadliest attacks in Europe, but the success of Barcelona in the Champions League may depend on their growing defense.
After winning 1-0 at Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday, Gerrard Piqué said that Barcelona was more back-to-back than during the whole season.
“We did a great defense, and we are in our power to protect the season,” Piquet said.
“The early goal relaxed us, and we knew how to cope with the situation, the fact that we did not give up helped us a lot.”
On Saturday, Barcelona will have to go to Huesca, downstairs in the Los Angeles league, where Ernesto Valverde can manage the team until the return match in three days.
He won 11 points at the top of the Premier League table, Barcelona won this luxury, while United with West Ham in the second half of the same day still refuses a place in the top four of the Premier League.
To win a draw, Ole Gunnar Solskyer will have to score at least once in Camp Nou, where the opponents have only suffered one defeat in 52 games, and in the Champions League – one in 10 years.
Nerves can still affect Barcelona, the whole season of which seems to depend on his performances in Europe, but now they have protection, which can also increase when the attack stops.
Messi, with bloody, quiet bruises against United, was a typical modest show for his team, who fought for normal fluency to move forward.
Instead, it was Piquet, who beamed, a 32-year-old who offers his best performances of the season as part of an impressive defensive show and discipline.
“We were very conscientious,” said Jordi Alba. “Sometimes you attack and leave the defense open, but we sat more and more balanced in the game.”
– Pragmatic Valverde –
Under Valverde, Barcelona’s free flowing style gave a more pragmatic advantage, given the rigidity and sportiness of the main components that allowed Messi and Suarez to grow.
But defensive severity fell. Having missed less than half a goal in one match in the first half of the first Valverde campaign, Barcelona was more than a goal in the second half of last season and the first half of the goal.
Four league matches were increased without wins in September and October with backups.
There are signs, although they are tight again. In the last 12 league matches, they held six clean cards, and goals now fall without a goal in the game.
In all competitions, they have closed Lion, Real Madrid twice, Atletico and Manchester United in the last three months alone.
“Pique and Langlet are a great pair, they are safe for us,” said Sergio Busquets on Wednesday.
“They play at a very high level,” said Valverde.
The dominance of Barcelona means that Real Madrid and Atletico left Real Madrid’s second place contenders for Leganis on Monday after Atletico Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Diego Simone will miss Diego Costa, who was banned by the Spanish Football Federation for eight matches for insulting referee Gil Manzano during his defeat last weekend at Camp Nou.
Atletico resumed the game, but if it didn’t work, Costa would no longer play this season.
“Real” is now just two points away from its rivals in the city before their match with Legianis, all the attention on the re-election of Zinedine Zidane.
Gareth Bell survived another difficult day on the day when Real Madrid got rid of Ibar last time, and it is still unknown whether the Welshman will keep his place.
Whistling again at Santiago Bernabeu, the future of Bale in Spain probably does not seem less certain.
“Bell, with all his experience, was used to this,” said Casimiro on Thursday. “When fans shout at a player, they all call us. We can not forget the titles and goals that he gave us. “