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Tuesday March 6 2018
Barca’s case for the defence

Barcelona have Lionel Messi’s magic in attack, but it’s their defensive record that marks them out among Europe’s League leaders…

Barcelona boast the best goals against record of any of the leaders of Europe’s top five Leagues, statistics from FootyStats show, but it’s not even the best goals against record in La Liga.

The Catalans moved eight points clear of Atletico Madrid with a 1-0 win on Saturday and have only conceded 13 goals in their 27 League games - which compares favourably to the 20 in 29 of Manchester City, 19 in 27 of Napoli, 18 in 25 of Bayern Munich and 19 in 28 of Paris Saint-Germain.

But despite losing by a single goal to Barca it is Diego Simeone’s side with the sturdiest defence in Spain, having let in only 12 goals in 27 games. Los Colchoneros have kept a clean sheet in 63% of their League fixtures, compared to 59% for Barca. No other club in Spain’s top flight has a percentage greater than 50, with Leganes the third-best at 44%.

The best clean sheet record in Europe’s leading Leagues belongs to Juventus, who have recorded a blank in 65% of their Serie A matches, but trail Napoli by a point. The Old Lady do however have a game in hand.

La Liga’s worst clean sheet record unsurprisingly belongs to bottom club Malaga, who have only kept the opposition out in 11% of their games. That three of the four worst defences - at least judged by this statistic - belong to the bottom three isn’t a surprise - but Celta Vigo, who sit ninth at the weekend, having kept a clean sheet in only 19% of their matches perhaps is.

Indeed, Celta’s clean sheet record is as bad as that of Las Palmas, who are 18th, while Juan Carlos Unzue’s side are comfortable in ninth. The Vigo club have conceded only 39 goals - the same number as fifth-placed Sevilla - but 67% of their games have seen both teams score, the joint-highest in La Liga along with Real Sociedad.

If Balaidos and Anoeta are the place to go to see goals - and both teams duly scored when they met in the Basque country in January - then the Wanda Metropolintano is one of the places to avoid. Both teams score in only 30% of Atletico’s games, the same as bottom club Malaga, but it’s Leganes, on the outskirts of the capital that’s most lacking in entertainment, with little more than a quarter - 26% - of their fixtures seeing both teams score. Only in Ligue 1, with Caen’s 25%, is that figure lower.

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