Clement Lenglet is part of the 26 player Barcelona squad that traveled to Lisbon who is at the business end of this year’s European campaign and will have their eyes set on the UCL trophy.
The top 8 teams in Europe have their work cut out as in less than a fortnight, we will watch one team being crowned as European champion. The stage is set in Lisbon, here are the fixtures.
PSG got the better of Atlanta in dramatic fashion, being down 1-0 right up till the 89th minute, the Parisians went on to beat the resilient and tired Italian outfit 2-1 at full time. With one semi-finalist already confirmed, three more spots are up for grabs at Europe’s elite club competition.
Barcelona cruised through the round of 16
Even though Barcelona ended a disappointing campaign in La Liga, there was immense pressure on the team and coach Quique Setien going into the match against Napoli. This is the last silverware; the Blaugranas will be fighting for this season.
The returns of De Jong and Griezmann did boost the team’s morale after Busquets and Vidal were suspended for the Napoli tie. We all witnessed what Lionel Messi can do with the ball, and 30 minutes was all it took for Barcelona to show everyone why they still mean business in this competition. Yes, Messi was brilliant, as usual. Suarez got his first goal since 2015 at home in the UCL and Lenglet headed his first goal in this year’s UCL campaign. Going into the first half with a 3-1 lead over Napoli, the second half was a completely different story.
It just took ten minutes for Clement Lenglet to find his head to a pinpoint corner by Rakitic, helping Barcelona take the lead in this crucial last 16 tie against Napoli. Even though the Italian side produced continuous attacks throughout the game, Pique and Lenglet stepped up to complete their duties. Barcelona led Napoli 3-1 into the first half, but the second half was a nervy affair. Napoli coach Gattuso got on his strike force in Matteo Politano, Hirving Lozano, and Arkadiusz Milik in the second half to seek a chance in getting back in this tie but to no avail.
Even though there was a jittery start to the game by Pique’s mistake, which could have given Napoli the lead courtesy Dries Mertens whose shot brushed past the post, Lenglet, on the other hand, barely put a foot wrong throughout. He finished with the game with outstanding stats having 89 touches on the ball and a 95% passing accuracy rate. Quite impressive and much needed for a defender to perform in big games
A solution to Barcelona’s defensive woes? Clement Lenglet
The instability of Umiti’s match fitness due to his injury worries, Lenglet had to get into the limelight from the moment he has been named as a starting 11 for the squad. Having an excellent campaign in his debut season under Valverde, many felt unconvinced by the Frenchman’s capabilities to be a long-term option for the club.
A self-proclaimed disciple of Johann Cruyff, Quique Setien who replaced Ernesto Valverde in January. Known for his possession-based philosophy and aesthetically pleasing football may have been a key in the adaptation of Lenglet to his plans and gameplay. Setien’s attacking play down the wings allows Lionel Messi and co. to move freely down the center, but the onus on the center-backs rises significantly.
Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet have been pivotal in this, and the game against Napoli proved why Lenglet’s capabilities shouldn’t be doubted.
🔎 | FOCUS— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) August 8, 2020
Clément Lenglet vs Napoli:
⏱️ 90' played
👌 89 touches (most for Barcelona)
⚽️ 1 goal
🔭 5/7 acc. long balls
👟 69/73 acc. passes
🛑 4 blocked shots
🚀 3 clearances
🧲 2 interceptions
📈 8.3 SofaScore rating
Strong performance by the French defender! 💪#UCL pic.twitter.com/Ug8qo2i863
Clement Lenglet’s views on the UCL challenge
Prior to the match against Napoli, Clement Lenglet spoke to Barcelona’s official channel and expressed his views on the challenges the team would have to get past if they want to reach the pinnacle of the UCL this year. He was looking forward to facing Napoli’s Dries Mertens prior to last Saturday’s round of 16 games and among his top striker’s in Europe, was another name he mentioned; yes – Robert Lewandowski.
Lenglet knows the importance of every game now on as the revised format gives every team no margin for error as all games will be played as a knockout. Lenglet has mastered his position in recent years, and his composure with the ball and aerial abilities has improved significantly. The challenge facing one of the top strikers currently in Europe, i.e., Bayern’s Lewandowski, will be taken on by the Frenchman, and he knows he will have to bring in a big performance for the team.
Next up for Lenglet – German champion’s Bayern Munich
With the form that Bayern Munich have been in, they would like to dictate the game to their gameplay, but they will be aware of the possession football that Barcelona brings to the game. An impressive attacking trio of Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, and in-form Robert Lewandowski would just need half a chance to create goal-scoring opportunities.
Given that Gerard Pique has not been his performing at his best and has also lost pace over recent times, Lenglet will have a crucial role to play to block the Bayern attacks. Bayern love to play out from the wings and Barcelona do not have the most pleasant memories of conceding through headers. Both the center backs of Barcelona will have to be alerted to avoid this and they will have to get their aerial superiority and physicality into the game.
With an impressive game against Napoli, Lenglet will have to put in another masterclass show from the defence with pinpoint accurate passing to his teammates. He has proved it with his passing vision previously, but he will have to execute the same against Bayern. Barcelona can breach Bayern’s high pressing game plan with counter-attacks and Messi and Co. will duly oblige this. Finishing most of the opportunities from corners will be another key aspect for Barcelona’s defenders.
Lenglet has grown into an irreplaceable part in Barcelona’s team sheet and he fits their system comfortably. To be the best, you got to beat the best. Up against one of the top strikers in the world on Friday, Clement Lenglet will be put to the ultimate test in Bayern. A large part of defensive responsibilities rests on his shoulders. He is a tough nut to crack under pressure, as we have seen in the past. Along with Messi, we have Lenglet and the rest of the Barcelona stars who will forward to getting past an impressive Bayern team to seal their place in the final four of this season’s UCL competition.
The Frenchman would face one of his toughest test this season when the Catalan club takes on the German giants for a spot in the semi-finals of the UCL on Friday.