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14.10.2007 09:55

Strength in defence

David Puig

In the 9 competitive matches that Barça have played so far this season, they have only conceded 4 goals, giving them one of the best defensive records in European club football.

One of the keys to Barça’s excellent run of results at the beginning of the 2007-08 season has been a solid defence. While Barça are top scorers in the Spanish league with 16 goals, it is no less significant that they have only conceded 4 goals in 9 matches, counting both the league and the Champions League. Barça are one of only five teams not to have conceded a single goal in the Champions League, along with Arsenal, Manchester United, Marseille and Shakhtar.

Among the best in Europe

fcb-bilbao99_x6x.jpgIf we look at the top two teams in each of the major leagues, we can see that only Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, and Manchester United, second in the Premier League, have a better defensive record. The English champions have conceded 2 goals in 11 matches, 9 in the league and 2 in the Champions League while Bayern has conceded 3. Barça has a better defensive record than teams such as Inter, Juventus, Arsenal and Real Madrid, which when combined with a lethal attack, goes a long way to explaining Barça’s excellent start in both competitions.

Fair play

However, Barça’s defensive excellence has not come at the expense of fair play. In the league, Rijkaard’s players have committed 98 fouls, an average of 14 per match, a figure bettered by only four teams - Osasuna (97), Getafe (97), Zaragoza (96) and Sevilla (90), though the latter two have played a game less. In terms of cards, Barça are second with 12, behind Deportivo with 8.
Strength in defence
Fewer cards for the defenders
Interestingly enough, the Barça defenders come off even better than the rest of their team-mates in terms of fouls committed. Of the 98 fouls committed in the league, less than half (41) are down to the defenders. As for cards, 5 have been shown to defenders and 7 to midfielders or forwards.

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