The importance of Lionel Messi to this Barcelona team is difficult to describe. The Catalans have a formidable team with many stars and yet, when Leo is on that pitch they just look different.
Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is that Messi’s invaluable presence makes them better, more dangerous and more feared by the opposition and in most cases, that would certainly be true. However, there is seemingly an argument to be made for the opposite as well.
This Sunday, Barcelona will face Elche in LaLiga and their coach, Jorge Almirón, has made an interesting statement in the build-up to the clash, as quoted by SPORT: “Barcelona without Messi play in a different way, more structured.”
Of course, Almirón also made sure to compliment Leo, saying he’s the best player in the world, but this remark is quite interesting, to say the least. Barcelona will be without the Argentine on Sunday as he is still serving the two-game suspension as a result of his direct red card against Athletic Club in the Supercopa.
Not many would say the Catalans are better without Messi, and Almirón’s statement should also not be taken out of context, but maybe there is some truth to that.
After all, with him on the pitch, every ball is always looking for him and every attack starts and ends with the Argentine, for better or worse. For all his ingenuity, ‘give the ball to Leo’ doesn’t exactly sound like a sound structure and him being absent could force the squad to adapt and work as a team even more.
One way or the other, the first game without Messi was a rather difficult Cup tie against UE Cornellà and Leo’s presence was sorely missed. Still, the Catalans persevered and will be looking to do the same on Sunday against Elche.
Messi will, once again, have to watch from afar but maybe, just maybe, that is for the best and Barcelona could gain something out of the experience.
Hopefully, they do it while getting an all-important win along the way too.