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Barcelona must improve, we've not been at it - Sergio Busquets

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'Messi-dependent' Barcelona always in danger of conceding (2:11)

Gab Marcotti and Shaka Hislop believe Barcelona are dangerously overreliant on Lionel Messi. (2:11)

JEDDAH -- Sergio Busquets has told ESPN that Barcelona must improve as they prepare to kick off their Spanish Supercopa campaign against Atletico Madrid in Saudi Arabia.

Barcelona lead Real Madrid on goal difference at the top of La Liga and are safely through to the round of 16 of the Champions League but their performances have drawn widespread criticism this season.

They have been particularly fragile away from Camp Nou and that was again evident last weekend as they kicked off 2020 with a 2-2 draw against La Liga's bottom club Espanyol.

Busquets hopes Thursday's semifinal against Atletico at Jeddah's King Abdullah Sport City Stadium -- with a place in Sunday's final against Madrid up for grabs -- will bring out the best in Barcelona and help them kick on in the second half of the season.

"We know we have to improve our performances, we've not been 100%," the midfielder said. "There is room to improve. There are games in which we have not been at it, but you get good and bad moments throughout a season. We need to try and be more solid.

"We're lacking a bit of consistency. As I said, above all we need to be more solid. Once we manage that, I think the results will come and confidence will grow. The [Supercopa] is a good moment to show that."

The majority of the criticism has focused on Barcelona's style. The midfield, once the side's strong point in the era of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, no longer sees as much of the ball, with coach Ernesto Valverde often preferring a more direct approach.

"With the type of players we have at Barcelona and the style of football we've been practicing in recent years, that's what everyone would like," Busquets added when asked if he would prefer to see the team play through the middle more.

"But it's also true that the opposition press a lot and some [teams] are going man for man against us. It makes everything difficult because losing the ball can have serious consequences.

"So, yes, in general, we would [like to have the ball in midfield more], but you can't always do that. We have to look for the way [to play], have a plan and try to execute it in the best possible manner."