The Lewandowski dependency: Barcelona lacking depth up top

Barcelona made a dominant start to the 2023/24 season, but it could be derailed because of their lack of depth up top apart from Robert Lewandowski.

Barcelona made a roaring start to their 2023/24 campaign. The Catalan giants have dominated the pitch, exhibiting a formidable performance with only a single loss in the early part of the season. With 27 points from 12 La Liga matches and a flawless record in the UEFA Champions League, the club’s supporters have reason to be optimistic. However, beneath this veneer of success lies a looming predicament that could threaten their championship aspirations. Barcelona have a shortage of striking options, which leaves them heavily reliant on the ageing Robert Lewandowski.

Despite having some of their star players out injured in the initial phase of the season. Barcelona have managed to win 11 out of their 15 games. They have scored 36 goals in those games, and it seems to be a great sign for the remainder of the season.

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However, things could go wrong for Barcelona because of their lack of depth in the striker’s position, and their over-dependence on Robert Lewandowski. Their only defeat which came against Real Madrid, which highlighted the fact that they lack depth up top.

Despite dominating Los Blancos, the Catalan giants ended up losing the match. They had more possession of the ball and even created quite a few chances but failed to convert. And, Lewandowski’s absence did hurt them as he had only just returned from injury and made a substitute appearance in that fixture.

The 35-year-old is in the twilight of his career and has not been as dominant as he was last season. And, on top of that, Ferran Torres is their only other player who can slot in as a striker. But the Spanish international is not the ideal option to have up top.

Robert Lewandowski’s drop-in form

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The Polish international joined Barcelona ahead of the 2022/23 season and he had a sensational debut season for the Spanish club. The 35-year-old featured in 46 matches in all competitions. He found the back of the net on 33 occasions and even bagged eight assists to his name.

Lewandowski was one of the major reasons for their dominant run in La Liga. The Catalan giants ended up winning the league thanks to his incredible goalscoring form. However, a lot has changed since the start of the new season.

The former Bayern Munich striker is not in the best of form in the ongoing season, and he has also struggled with injuries. Expecting him to produce similar numbers as he did last season could be a bit too much to ask for from a 35-year-old, who is surely past his prime.

Lewandowski has featured in 12 matches in the ongoing season and has only scored six goals so far. He last scored a goal back in September. The Polish international is not in the best of form and Xavi does not really have a backup option in his ranks.

Ferran Torres: Not the ideal backup striker

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Barcelona only have one out-and-out striker in their squad, who is Robert Lewandowski. They do not even have a proper centre-forward apart from the 35-year-old. The only other option that Xavi has is to use Ferran Torres up top. The 23-year-old prefers playing out wide but he can fill in for the Polish international if and when needed.

Torres has fared decently in the ongoing season as he has six goal contributions in his 14 outings. But, he does not have the skill-set needed to succeed as a striker. Torres can surely chip in with goals every now and then. But his game-style suits playing in the centre.

The Spanish international is someone who prefers playing out wide. HHe loves taking on defenders and charging at them with pace. As far as playing as a striker is concerned, Xavi cannot bank on the 23-year-old if Lewandowski does not return to his best.

The former Manchester City forward has featured in 11 league games, and he has only scored three goals so far. He averages a goal every 184 minutes which is not ideal if you are supposed to support Lewandowski up top.

Lack of depth up top will get highlighted in big games

Overall, this Barcelona team is good enough to go past the majority of the teams with or without a proper number nine. But, when it comes to big games, a world-class number nine is a must. They need to have Lewandowski firing on all cylinders to ensure they can go past the biggest teams in Europe.

They created enough chances against Real Madrid in the Clasico but failed to convert those chances. If they had a fully-fit Lewandowski in their ranks, they could have come out on top in this fixture.

But, with the 35-year-old not in a similar kind of goalscoring form as he was last season and Ferran Torres not the ideal backup striker, the Catalan giants could struggle in the big games this season. They will find it difficult to open up teams who have rock-solid defences, which is where an out-and-out ace striker helps you find the back of the net.

In simple terms, Barcelona need to add a new number nine to their ranks as soon as possible. While Vitor Roque is set to join the club next summer, they are considering bringing him to the club in the winter. But, he is still 18, and they need to add someone who has enough experience in the winter to ensure they have the depth to push for major titles this season.

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