The silent project-killer: Barcelona's recurring defensive issues

It's always the old problems that kill projects, not the new ones. And some of Barcelona's old issues are yet to be resolved. Is there a cause for concern for Xavi's squad?

Around a year and a half ago, I wrote a piece analysing some of the biggest issues Xavi's Barcelona project had been facing at the time. The problems of forced verticality, compactness, intensity and defensive awareness were keeping the squad from reaching the required level and while they were still good enough to claim LaLiga, it was in Europe the weaknesses got exposed the most.

Some months after that piece, I wrote another one, claiming it's not the new issues that kill projects but the old ones; ones you don't fix right away and they get bigger, rolling like a snowball until they become unmanageable. But if recurring issues keep getting ignored, they could potentially signal either the inability of the coach to identify them or a failure of coaching in trying to fix them. Both options are worrisome.

So what recurring issues are we seeing from Barcelona in 2023/24?