Gerard Piqué celebrates after scoring from a corner against Rayo. / VICTOR SALGADO - FCB

Jérémy Mathieu’s header against Real Madrid in the Clásico was a prime example of how much more lethal Barça are from dead-ball situations this season. Much of that goal came down to Juan Carlos Unzué, the assistant manager, who got up from the bench and stood in the technical area. That was a clear indication that a planned strategy was on the way. Unzué made a gesture, telling the players what he wanted them to do and moments later the ball was in the back of the net. The same process has been repeated over and over this season. Set pieces, which were once one of the problem areas for the team, have now become one of their strong points.

Free kicks have been the source of some crucial goals this season, with two particularly important ones being scored by Piqué in the 1-0 win against APOEL at the Camp Nou and Busquets with his last-second goal to grab the three points at Valencia. Other decisive goals from carefully rehearsed strategies have been scored against Sevilla (5-1), Espanyol (5-1), Elche (0-6), Atlético Madrid (2-3), Rayo Vallecano (6-1), Eibar (0-2) and Real Madrid (2-1).

Goal from a corner. FC Barcelona 6-1 Rayo Vallecano. Piqué made it 2-0.

Goal from a free kick. FC Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid. Mathieu got the opener (1-0).

Four of the goals from set plays have opened the scoring, four were the second goal and the other four were the third. Which all goes to show how decisive such goals have been this term. Moreover, our stats don't include the three scored directly from free kicks, two by Leo Messi and one by Rakitic. And six of the goals from dead ball situations have been scored by Gerard Piqué, half of which were from free kicks supplied by Xavi Hernández, although the man who tops the ranking for assists from free kicks is Ivan Rakitic with five.

Here’s a summary of the goals scored from set pieces this season (not including direct free kicks):

Competition

Opponent

Result

Scorer

Goal no.

Source

Assist

Liga

5-1

Neymar

3

Free kick

Rakitic

Liga

0-1

Busquets

1

Corner

Rebound off D. Alves

Liga

5-1

Piqué

3

Corner

Rakitic

Liga

5-0

Piqué

3

Free kick

Xavi

Liga

0-4

Messi

4

Corner

Rakitic

Liga

0-6

Piqué

1

Free kick

Xavi

Liga

6-1

Piqué

2

Corner

Xavi

Liga

0-2

Messi

2

Corner

Rakitic

Liga

2-1

Mathieu

1

Free kick

Messi

Cup

2-3

Miranda pp

2

Corner

Rakitic

Cup

3-1

Piqué

3

Corner

Messi

Champions

League

1-0

Piqué

1

Free kickl

Messi

The last six seasons

The team have not scored this many goals from set plays since the 2009/10 season, when they got 13. Of course, there are still 12 games yet to play in the current season. Here’s a rundown of the last six years:

2009/10: 13
2010/11: 5
2011/12: 6
2012/13: 6
2013/14: 4