Barcelona doing fine without Lewandoski

Barcelona’s 1-0 LaLiga win at Girona on Saturday was historic.

Coming after a 1-0 Copa del Rey victory over Real Sociedad and a 1-0 win over Getafe, this was the first time in 43 years that Barca have won three consecutive games by that scoreline.

Add a 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid on Jan. 8, a 1-0 win at Valencia on Oct. 29, a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo on Oct. 9 and a 1-0 win at Mallorca on Oct. 1, and there’s a pattern emerging. It’s not the one you might have expected when Xavi Hernandez, the spiritual heir to manager Pep Guardiola and crown prince of tiki-taka, was appointed back in November 2021.

Context is important. Barca’s defensive record in LaLiga is exceptional, conceding just six goals in 18 games. They’ve kept 14 clean sheets. Much of that can be attributed to career-best form from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, rivalling Thibaut Courtois for the title of Spain’s most reliable keeper.

At the other end of the pitch, it’s no surprise Barca struggled to score against Girona, Getafe and Atletico given that they’ve been without one of the best goal scorers on the planet, Robert Lewandowski. The team are over-reliant on him, with his 13 league goals followed by Pedri — who found the net on Saturday — and Ousmane Dembele, now injured, with five each.

Even with Lewandowski back from suspension, it’s time for a slowly improving Ansu Fati, a yet-to-convince Raphinha and the underwhelming Ferran Torres to step up and play their part.