Barcelona problem upfront unravel

Barcelona have forgotten how to score in recent games as they go through a difficult spell in front of goal at the most decisive point of the season.This is clearly an anomaly for the Blaugrana as they have scored the third most league goals across Europe’s top five leagues with 61, only beaten by Paris Saint-Germain’s 69 and Manchester City’s 74. However, the clash on Tuesday night against Lyon confirmed their bad goalscoring run as they drew 0-0 at the Groupama Stadium, which means that they have only scored once in their last three games. Beforehand, they drew 0-0 away at Athletic Club and only beat Real Valladolid last weekend with a penalty.

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The barren run is closely linked to the form of Luis Suarez with the Uruguayan being far from his best form, as Tuesday night showed. At present, Suarez needs multiple opportunities in order to find the back of the net, rather than acting like the predator we’ve seen in the past. His form in Europe has been worrying as his last Champions League goal came against Roma in last year’s quarter-final first leg at the Camp Nou; his last away goal in Europe was also against Roma, but back in September 2015.

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It is also worth noting that Lionel Messi is not playing at 100 percent after picking up a knock against Valencia on 2 February, something that has caused the Argentine’s impact to be reduced in recent weeks, particularly when it comes to sprinting over a few metres. The other member of the attacking trident, Ousmane Dembele, has never been prolific, despite having a good record with Barcelona this season; he had a couple of chances against Lyon, but lacked success.

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Nevertheless, Ernesto Valverde stated after the game that he would only be worried if Barcelona, and Luis Suarez in particular, were not generating chances and getting into the right areas. The coach is aware that Suarez will be like a bottle of ketchup; nothing comes for a while and then a dollop of goals arrives.

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The problem, for the moment at least, is that Barcelona are having to generate a lot of chances just to score one goal. Against Athletic, they had 10 shots and only tested the goalkeeper twice. At home to Valladolid, they had 20 shots and eight hit the target. And on Tuesday night, away at Lyon, there were five shots on target from 25, yet only two really tested Anthony Lopes. The fact of the matter is that Barcelona have had 55 shots on goal, with 15 hitting the target, and that has resulted in one solitary goal. Those statistics are not that of a team aspiring to win the treble, though they will inevitably end this run in one game and punish their opponent. Until then, as Valverde noted, they will just have to keep creating chances and getting into the right areas.

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