Squad list for the last game of the season against Alaves.
I saw a lot of people on this platform here saying Valverde was better than Setien. That Valverde would've won us the league, because apparently, he "knows" how to win a league. That Setien is nothing but a mid table manager who knows nothing about managing a big club.
Maybe he is, I can't say anything about that. But, what I can say is that y'all aren't being fair at all to Setien.
Let me remind you that Valverde was hired pretty much considering the same things as Setien, except Setien never played for us. Valverde revived a team that was fighting hard to stay in the top ten of the league, and brought them to Europe. Athletic Bilbao was the team he managed - for those that do not know this. Recruting him was questionable though because of his playstyle that very much contradicts our philosophy and our identity. But he was signed, and the rest is history. It is what it is.
Setien was the same. He brought Betis, a team that was battling to stay out of relegation - to Europe. But he hadn't played for Barca yet shared the same ideology and philosophy as Johann Cruyff, his footballing inspiration. But remember, Setien was thrown into a team MID SEASON. He had no pre-season like Valverde did. He had no time to gather his tactics or to drill in his ideas to the team, all he had was a tied top position in the league table and all the pressure in the world to retain it. He was constantly hit with injury issues too.
Now, I know xG and xA are just mostly very theoretical stats and are not really 100% accurate but nevertheless, I choose to quote these stats to you as an FYI thing. These stats are for this season and are the entire team's stats as well as Messis, under these respective managers. These stats are all taken from one source (Understat) so you can be assured that there is no bias here.
Let's start with some team stats (These are all based on La Liga). Under Valverde, we played 19 games in La Liga. We won 12, drew 4 and lost 3. We conceded 23 goals during this time, and scored 49.
Under Setien, we've played 18 games so far with one left to go. We've won 12, drawn 3 and lost 3 so far. We've conceded only 15 goals during this time and scored 32.
Remember - our defense was in shambles when Valverde left. Yes, he fortified our defense in his first seasons here, but later on, we started crumbling. We conceded 23 goals in 19 games under him, averaging atleast a goal per game. This is an area Setien has improved under us. Don't forget, the major part of Setien's games have been after the COVID pandemic. He has had a harder time managing his players especially from fatigue and exhaustion, and to maintain an OK defensive record like that, especially after being thrown into a team mid season with little to zero preparation is a commendable achievement.
However, it's the number of goals we manage to score under Setien that's really worrying. We've managed just 32 compared to 49 under Valverde. And that's also what puzzles me.
Barcelona’s xG for Setien’s 18 league matches is 34.87 with 32 goals scored.
Barcelona’s xG for Valverde’s 19 league matches is 33.71 with 49 goals scored.
Messi was the main man as usual for both these sides, and these are Messi's stats under both these managers, every 90 minutes.
xG = 0.52
xA = 0.50
Shots = 3.94
Key passes = 2.47
Goals = 13, Assists = 6.
xG = 0.73
xA = 0.52
Shots = 5.78
Key Passes = 2.94
Goals = 10, Assists = 14.
As you can see above, statistically, we have been better offensively and defensively after Setien took over. If you ask me, it just all comes down to luck.
When considering open play, Messi's xG p90 under Setien (0.83) is almost DOUBLE that under EV (0.47) which means that Setien’s strategy, whatever it was, was working. Messi was getting into dangerous situations more frequently, he was getting more quality chances.
But Messi scored twice as many goals (0.92 per 90m) as his xG (0.47) under EV which means EV was VERY lucky, while Messi’s much lower goal per 90min (0.64) than his xG (0.83) when under Setien meant Messi was missing clear cut chances much more often than he was under EV. I've attached a graphic below from @LaMasiaNostra from Twitter that supports these statements.
You could argue that I'm just talking nonsense here, that there is no way Valverde was just lucky compared to Setien. That Messi can't just be missing easy chances right after Setien came in. What other possible explanation could you have, honestly? Messi was scoring insanely difficult shots in the first half of the campaign, but missed similarly difficult shots and some easier ones too, in the later half.
He hit the post once during our 2-2 draw with Atletico, and again during our 1-2 loss to Osasuna. Those two alone are worth 3 points, and signify how unlucky Setien was.
Don't forget Suarez's injury, too. He may not be the striker he once was, and can't carry the ball forward if the entire world was depending on him, but you know his chemistry with Messi is impeccable and he has a good eye for goal and has scored clutch goals for us throughout the league. Add these small moments together, and you could argue that Setien has been extremely unlucky.
My conclusion? Don't judge Setien that fast. I'll admit, I had high hopes for him and expected a lot better than this from him - but for a manager that was brought into the club in the middle of a season, with no proper pre-season, to being hit constantly by injuries over and over again and to lose/draw games in the most unluckiest fashion (our loss to Osasuna - Busquets doing God knows what, our draw to Celta with Aspas with that absolute banger of a free kick, our draw to Atleti with those unfortunate penalty calls etc) he has done well, atleast in my opinion. He deserves a full season to incorporate his ideas, and a complete transfer market where he gets to buy the players he wants and offload those he doesn't (extremely optimistic thought with our dumbass board being around) and a proper pre-season to train with the team.
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