MESSI. Is it even possible to put to words the importance of Messi to Barca? And world football by extension? Does it not make sense to see any side remarkably weakened in his absence? Is it fair to call Barca – Messi-dependent?
No matter how neutral and academic we try to be in answering the above questions. Our answers will be heavily prejudiced! Riddled with inane and superfluous manifestations of our way of understanding the beautiful game. So I will not even dare to continue with such shenanigans.
Only one question intrigues me: “Is Barca just Messi?”
It is actually disrespectful to look at a team that possesses such world-class talents as Suarez, Neymar, Iniesta, and Busquets in such a vein. Just realizing that even a talent as large as Arda Turan sits patiently on the sidelines bidding his time like a lioness tentatively circling her prey makes it even almost annoying that people dare to call Barca – “Just-Messi”. Personally I think that actually more than adequately describes who Messi is.
He is so large that he makes an Iniesta almost small; so supernatural that he makes a Neymar almost human; so indescribable than all of a sudden a writer finds words to describe an Arda Turan.
No, Barca isn’t just Messi. They are substantially more. We saw Neymar blow Rayo away in an absolutely ethereal performance; creating and converting two penalties, scoring two more for good numbers, and throwing in an assist to Suarez for fun. Against Eibar, Suarez grabbed another hattrick, with two assists coming from Neymar again! Then in the Champions League, Rakitic scored twice! All once again assisted by the in-form Neymar.
It seems they cannot keep a clean sheet to save-their-lives, but that is simply due to their inability to control the game in midfield, an absolutely vital aspect of their style of play. With Iniesta injured, Turan unavailable, and Xavi departed only Rakitic remains as that playmaker to control the game. But he was never such a player! Same can be said of Sergi Roberto (who is in some ridiculous form, by the way). Partnered by Busquets and Mascherano, Barca’s ability to grab games by their heads and smother them to submission with sleek, precision passes is markedly reduced. A phenomenon Barca fans are infamously becoming acquainted to, the “No-Midfield” phenomenon. It is not as bad as we so hopelessly want to believe it to be. The culerverse is filled with the most pessimist and paranoid fans ever!
Barca possesses a team that without even the indescribable Messi should challenge on all fronts. I mean, Bayern Munich have no Messi (both metaphorically and realistically) but are seen as favourites in all competitions. It is only fair to say that without Messi, all Barca is is your everyday “big-team”; just like Real Madrid or Manchester United. It has to be said also, that with Messi, they are simply… Unplayable.
So indeed, the man Messi is unimaginably important to Barca (which team wouldn’t he be to?) but he is not Barca. Barca are over a hundred years, Messi is twenty-eight (I hope you catch my drift?). Barca seem to be struggling, but that is just due to the many injured players. With a full fit squad, well… Stuff like the treble happen!