Xavi says Barca's first defender is a striker - explained with stats

Xavi says Barca’s first defender is a striker – explained with stats

Xavi says Barca's first defender is a striker - explained with stats

“The first defender is Robert Lewandowski. He gives us the necessary strength. If he presses, everyone else will,” Xavi said after Barca’s win against Villarreal.

Xavi is absolutely right in his comments about the Polish striker. Lewandowski was immense for Barcelona in defence when he needed to be.

Stats show that Lewandowski (6) attempted more ground duels than Ronald Araujo (5). He won four of those duels while Araujo won five.

Lewandowski also helped out when Barcelona faced aerial threats from set-piece situations. He won two of his three aerial duels.

Here’s Lewandowski defending a corner:

Lewandowski was present in the box to help defend all six corners Barcelona faced against Villarreal

Now here’s Lewa’s heat map in the game against Villarreal – notice the area in red shows how much he was involved in Barca’s pressing in midfield areas.

Lewandowski failed to score against the Yellow Submarines but he was actively involved in the game defensively and in the attack. Plus he provided the assist for Pedri’s match-winner.

Xavi explains why he made late subs v Villarreal despite Man United clash in 4 days

“I didn’t make the substitutions earlier because the team responded well physically,” Xavi told the media after the 1-0 win against Villarreal.

“We were only lacking the final pass, that’s it,” the Barca boss added.

Xavi made his first sub against Villarreal only in the 81st minute. The second followed in the 89th – and that was the final one.

Despite Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto warming up, they did not enter the pitch after all.

Next up, Barcelona will take on Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday.

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