Despite the Catalan has favorable numbers, it seems that for Luis Enrique the 3rd center-back is Mathieu
The decisive period of the season has come, with La Liga, the Champions League and Copa del Rey at stake. In the beginning of the season, Gerard Piqué said he would fight to be again amongst the best center-backs in the world. After his performance so far, it's obvious he won a permanent place in the defense. For Luis Enrique, the second center-back is Javier Mascherano, a player never forgetting effort and dedication. This might be the ideal partnership for the coach to face the important matches, but injuries made change the plans.
Balls lost by Bartra: 16. Balls lost by Mathieu: 44
Sergio Busquets got injured just before two key matches: City and Real Madrid. This makes Mascherano place in the midfield and the debate about who should be Piqué's partner has started. Bartra or Mathieu? The Catalan has a similar profile to Piqué, which diminish his chances. Luis Enrique showed in more than an occasion, since the French has played more minutes in all the competitions. But if we take a look at data collected by Carles Domènech in all the competitions, the performance of the Catalan is better than the French, especially regarding balls lost.
We warned more than once that Jérémy Mathieu should improve not to lose so much balls. He played more than Bartra, but the French has lost more than double of balls than Bartra. 44-16. Luckily the difference is not as big as this regarding balls recovered: Mathieu recovered two more. Where we find more difference is in the successful key matches, 27-12, which shows that Mathieu has problems when playing with the ball from the defense. We'll see which is Luis Enrique's decision this Wednesday against City and next Sunday versus Real Madrid.