Barcelona set to beat 53-year European defensive record
By Euan Burns
Despite the mass of negative press that has surrounded Barcelona over the past two to three seasons and particularly right now in the wake of the Casa Negreira referee payments scandal, they have been having a great time on the pitch.
The Blaugrana are sitting very pretty at the top of La Liga with a 12-point lead over current champions Real Madrid and have the lead in the Copa del Rey semi-final tie between the two sides, meaning they are well set to win two trophies this season.
The European campaign may have not gone to plan after dropping out of the Champions League and then being booted out of the Europa League by Manchester United, but Xavi Hernandez is certainly doing a really good job on the pitch with a squad that still needs a lot of work.
While the La Liga title will be Xavi's main aim, he could be about to break a pretty special record with his Barcelona side.
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What defensive record are Barcelona set to break?
As things stand, the current Barcelona side is set to break the record for the fewest goals conceded per game across a league campaign.
Barcelona have only conceded nine times in their 26 La Liga games so far which means they are averaging 0.346 goals conceded per game. That puts them at the top of the leaderboard for the best defensive records ever in the top five leagues in Europe.
They are currently beating the record that was set by Cagliari back in the 1969/70 season. In the 30 Serie A games that season, they only conceded 11 goals. Barcelona have still got 12 games left to play this season but on current trajectory, even if they concede more goals than that Cagliari side, they could beat the record.
If they concede four more goals, they would still beat the record and end with a goals conceded per game rate of 0.342, better than Cagliari's 0.367.
Where do Barcelona rank compared to other Spanish sides?
Spanish sides do not feature very heavily on the list with English and Italian teams dominating the standings for the historic best defences in the top five European leagues.
It would be a big surprise now if Barcelona do not set the record for La Liga sides. It currently belongs to the Atletico Madrid side from 2015/16 which conceded 18 goals in the 38 games, setting a record of 0.474. That is matched exactly by the 1993/94 Deportivo La Coruna side.
Barcelona would need to concede the same amount of goals in the last 12 games as they have in the first 26 games to not break the Spanish record, which would be a big surprise.
Why are Barcelona so good defensively this season?
It was not necessarily expected that Barcelona would be so good at the back this season. They have had quite a lot of injuries and rotation with the full-backs this season which should work against them.
The major benefit is that both Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde have settled into life at Barcelona really well, while Ronaldo Araujo has shown when fit he is one of the strongest defenders in Europe. Having Sergio Busquets still playing well in front of them also makes it much easier.
The other key ingredient is the superb form of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal. The goalkeeper has to take a huge amount of credit for those defensive numbers, but it is certainly a team effort.
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