As one of the best defenders in Barcelona’s history, Ronald Koeman must be worried by what he’s seeing from his centre-backs this season. The performances of Clement Lenglet are a particular cause for concern at the Camp Nou.
The 25-year-old, who signed a new six-year contract at the Catalan club this week, was singled out for criticism on Saturday after giving a penalty away against Real Madrid. The shirt tug on Sergio Ramos was fairly innocuous, but it was asking for trouble with VAR in operation.
While some protested the decision to award a penalty for Lenglet’s challenge, it’s important to remember the challenges the Frenchman got away with on Raphael Varane in last season’s Clasico at the Camp Nou.
Before the international break, the former Sevilla defender received the fourth red card of his Barcelona career after picking up two bookings against Celta Vigo at Balaidos. He’d previously been sent off against Girona, Getafe and Real Betis.
Away to Juventus on Wednesday, Lenglet will have to lead the Barcelona defence in the absence of the suspended Gerard Pique, who was sent off himself against Ferencvaros on Tuesday.
The Blaugrana’s defensive errors don’t just come from Lenglet, though, with Pique’s red card in the Champions League an example. It was Frenkie de Jong who gave away the penalty on Djene Dakonam against Getafe. The Dutch midfielder even looks uncomfortable in his favoured position in a two-man pivot in the middle of the park.
Back in the centre of defence, Koeman has just three centre-backs to call on in his first-team squad – and one of those is the inexperienced Ronald Araujo. Samuel Umtiti is still around, but he’s not been involved at all for Barcelona this season.
When the Catalans visit Turin in the Champions League, it will be Lenglet and Araujo – who only has 20 minutes of experience in the competition to his name – who make up the centre defensive partnership for the visitors.
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