Every foul on the edge of the area favorable to Barça has become a ceremony of confusion this season. Where before footballers like Messi, Neymar, Suárez, Griezmann or even Rakitic surrounded the ball, now Dembélé, Alves, Jordi Alba, Piqué, Memphis… The results are in sight. Barça has not been able to score a goal from a direct free kick throughout the season. CSpecifically, it has been 50 games without drilling the rival goal from a free kick since Messi scored his 50th goal in this art. It was in Valencia, at the end of last season. The shadow of the Argentine in this facet of the game is especially long.
For Barça, who had the first great specialist in luck, Kubala, it is a situation rarely seen in its history. A club that has had the best specialists in the world in the last 40 years (Schuster, Maradona, Koeman, Stoichkov, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Messi) now feels harmless whenever there is a foul close to the edge of the area. This encourages defenders to play with more intensity, risk more and avoid shots that were previously produced for fear of a foul that with players like Messi were almost half a goal.
Xavi explores solutions, but it’s not easy. Memphis, the only player who has recently come close to scoring a direct free kick (Iñaki Peña saved him in the Barça-Galatasaray) is not usually a starter. Ferran, Aubameyang or Dembélé are not specialists. Nor the midfielders (Busquets, Frenkie de Jong). Xavi tries to get Pedri, now injured, and Gavi to make progress on the matter. The Andalusian has been seen lately working specifically on this aspect at the Ciutat Esportiva.
The problem of direct fouls is not being so much, for example, in free kicks and corner kicks. There Bará, through Piqué, Araújo or Luuk de Jong himself, has been able to score goals to the point of becoming the team in the major European leagues that scores the most goals with a header, a rare bird in a team like the Barça that confirms the strange times that are lived in the Barça entity.