Though Tito Vilanova’s FC Barcelona was just one win away from securing its best-ever start to a season (until it fell 2-1 to Celtic in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday), the Blaugrana’s defensive record thus far isn’t exactly the stuff of champions. Indeed, 21 goals conceded in 17 total matches so far this season -- and only four shutouts -- leaves a lot of room for improvement.
Of course, Barca’s offense, led by Lionel Messi, has been its usual magnificent self, but the team’s defensive frailties have caused more than a few scares where the team has either had to come from behind to win or score a winning goal in stoppage time. Actually, La Marca counts five such occasions, against Osasuna, Spartak Moscow, Granada, Sevilla and Celtic. However, the most egregious defensive lapses came in the 5-4 win away to Deportivo, in which Barca squandered a 3-0 lead after the first 20 minutes.
Long-term injuries to Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Dani Alves have not helped matters (the latter two have just returned to action), but the amount of own goals scored and goals conceded from set pieces will be worrying for Vilanova.