FC Barcelona v Athletic Club. FC Barcelona players celebrate the goal of (7) Ousmane Dembélé. Barcelona, Spain, 23, October, 2022

10 insane stats from Barcelona’s superb 4-0 thrashing of Athletic Club

Barcelona have bounced back in style following their damaging defeat to Real Madrid last weekend, producing two of the finest performances of Xavi Hernandez’s reign to date.

The defeat in El Clasico was the first time that questions had really been asked of Barca legend Xavi, who returned to the club a year ago.

La Blaugrana have failed every big test of the season so far, teetering on the brink of elimination in the Champions League after losing away to Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, while only managing a draw in the return fixture at home to Inter. Their 3-1 loss at the Bernabeu remains their only league defeat of the season so far.

With the pressure building, Barcelona have kept on Madrid’s coattails with back-to-back victories in tricky tests against solid opposition. Both Villarreal and Athletic Club are in the hunt for a top-four place, but Barcelona dispatched them comfortably, winning 3-0 against the former and 4-0 against the latter.

All specialists, including the bookmakers, are pretty cautious in dealing with Barcelona. In fact, the odds given for them to win La Liga haven’t dropped significantly just yet. The reasons are the early point of the season that we stand at the time but also the immeasurable factor of the World Cup intervening in it. Barca still seem likely to be Real’s closest challenger this season, despite their problems.

“After a difficult week the team were affected by the end of it, but [we] showed character and the will to do things well,” said summer signing Franck Kessie, via Mundo Deportivo.

“If we have come back like this, then it is also thanks to Xavi and the staff, who have known how to find the solution, and restore morale and motivation to the team”.

Barcelona were particularly scintillating as Ernesto Valverde returned to Camp Nou for the first time since he was sacked as Barcelona manager. His Athletic Bilbao side struggled to cope with the intensity and interplay of Xavi’s side who raced into a three-goal lead inside 22 minutes and eventually cruised to a 4-0 victory.

Here are 10 particularly impressive stats from Barcelona’s latest victory.

– Ousmane Dembele had a hand in all four goals. As well as scoring, he assisted the other three and received a perfect 10/10 for his performance by WhoScored.

– The trio of assists takes Dembele up to 16 La Liga assists in 2022. Only his former team-mate Lionel Messi has notched more in Europe’s big leagues this calendar year. He’s also top of the La Liga assists chart in 2022-23 (five) for a second successive season.

– Dembele played four key passes – the final pass before a team-mate shoots at goal – which was more than the opposition managed combined.

– The France international carried the ball 329 yards towards the opposition goal. That’s the furthest distance of any player on the pitch. To put that in context, the Athletic player that came out on top in that metric was centre-back Inigo Martinez, who carried the ball less than half that distance (142 yards).

– Eric Garcia registered 120 touches of the ball. That’s at least 30 more than any of his team-mates and more than twice as many as any opposition player.

– The centre-back also completed 97 passes. That’s almost three times as many as any opposition player – Inigo Martinez was Athletic’s most prolific passer with just 35 in total.

– Barcelona’s all-round performance was incredibly dominant. They registered 65.6% possession, 10 shots to Athletic’s five, and seven on target to Athletic’s three. Marc Andre ter Stegen was only forced into making a single save.

– But it was an incredibly clinical performance. Barcelona’s four goals came via just 1.5xG (expected goals) – via FBref. Xavi’s men have actually registered a higher xG in 12 of their other 14 games in all competitions this season.

– With his goal against Athletic, Lewandowski has scored in eight of his 11 La Liga appearances this season. With 12 goals in total, he’s five ahead of anyone else in the Spanish top flight. Only Erling Haaland has picked up more points in Europe’s big five leagues.

– That was Barcelona’s ninth clean sheet from 11 La Liga matches (81%) so far this season. No team in Europe’s top five leagues has more, and no team has conceded fewer goals (four).

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