Barcelona sack Setien: More of the ball, fewer goals and leakier defence - Camp Nou reign in Opta numbers

By Ryan Benson 18 August 2020 19
Barcelona sack Setien: More of the ball, fewer goals and leakier defence - Camp Nou reign in Opta numbers

In one of the least surprising things to occur in world football this season, Quique Setien's time as Barcelona coach came to an abrupt end on Monday.

The decision to axe the former Real Betis tactician was made following one of the darkest days in Barca's history, as they were remarkably dumped out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage by Bayern Munich – the Germans winning 8-2 in Lisbon.

It was an astonishing contest – if it can be called that – as Bayern obliterated the Catalans, whose embarrassment was compounded in the latter stages by Philippe Coutinho coming on to get an assist and two goals in the latter stages.

Josep Maria Bartomeu hinted a change was in the offing and it was soon established a board meeting had been called for Monday – that post-mortem has unsurprisingly led to Setien's departure after just seven months at the helm.

The issues at Barca run deep and only begin with Setien, but as Opta data shows, they have been less effective since he replaced Ernesto Valverde.

More of the ball – fans appeased?

One of the issues many Barca fans had with Valverde was the style of play. Some felt he had deferred from the club's obsession with possession in favour of a more pragmatic and direct approach.

Valverde would point to the fact he led them to back-to-back LaLiga titles as a counter argument, and Barca's woes this term suggest he did a fine job winning those crowns.

Nevertheless, it was not as if Barca suddenly became possession shy under Valverde - they averaged 63 per cent of the ball with him in charge, but with Setien's appointment came an obvious shift back to a style that seemed to put ball control above all else.

They averaged 68 per cent possession with Setien, while their passes per game went up to 738 from 657 and accuracy increased from 88 per cent to 89 per cent - though the latter is probably skewed by Barca making more short passes.

Fewer goals, more conceded

That extra time on the ball doesn't appear to have contributed a great deal from a positive perspective, however.

In fact, the data suggests Barca have been less potent despite seeing more of the possession.

Barca averaged 6.48 shots on target and 2.34 goals every 90 minutes with Valverde, but those figures decreased to 5.44 and two respectively with Setien at the helm.

And fewer goals scored did not equate to a better defensive record, either, having shipped 1.08 goals per game under Setien compared to 0.88 during Valverde's time in charge.

Win rate down, historic defeat

Ultimately, for all the stats on possession and goals both scored and conceded, Setien was dismissed due to poor results.

Barca's win rate dropped from 66.9 per cent under Valverde to 64 per cent following Setien's appointment, the LaLiga giants winning only 16 of their 25 games under the former Real Betis boss.

The last of those games will go down in Barca's history for all the wrong reasons, the humiliating loss at the hands of Bayern the first time they have conceded eight goals in a game since losing 8-0 to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey 74 years ago.

It was also the first time they have lost a match by six goals since April 1951, when beaten 6-0 by Espanyol in a league encounter.

Whichever way you look at it, then, a total reset will now likely be required for the next man who takes on one of the most demanding jobs in world football.

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Ryan Benson

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