Its been two games since Barcelona’s super star Lionel Messi has been out of action following an injury over the weekend against the Las Palmas. With Messi expected to be out for 7-8 weeks thanks to his ligament tear, its fair to say, there will a period of around two more weeks over and above for him to regain his fitness and form. Injury to your key player, especially to someone like Messi would be a massive blow for any manager. How do you really replace nearly 60 goals and 30 assists per season?
The season of FC Barcelona, especially when compared to the magnificent 2014/15 has been one to forget. Messi was by far the most important member of the dominating MSN Trio. Given that Neymar is finally returning to form after Mumps and Suarez has his striker’s instincts back at its best, the goal slack can somewhat be compensated, as these two get a larger role.Also, Suarez can also provide a few more assists here and there, given that he was the only other European Player after Messi to have scored and assisted 20+ goals in each category.
Given Enrique’s reliance on the Barcelona youth, and the tiki-taka system they play, he would most likely be taking an offensive youngster such as Munir or Sandro on as part of the rotating front trio. In such cases, maybe Pedro would have been given the opportunity to shine if he had stayed, but it’s in the past now. For the creativity? There are not that many who can really pick up the slack as most of Messi’s assists come from a well-placed long ball, or drawing out the defence players to give his teammates an easy access to goal. The long ball can be provided more often by either Iniesta or Rakitic who are the heart of the Catalan midfield.
If he decides to alter formation, he could have a Suarez- Neymar front two, with Rafhina added to the midfield. In such cases, he would also be wishing he could utilize Turkish signing, Adra Turan to increase the dynamics and offensive prowess of his midfield. So by either using a front two with Rafhina, or sticking to the same formation and adding Sandro or Munir, the loss of Messi could be mitigated to some extent and other players are set to thrive, as it is there chance to shine.
However, if there is any place that needs even more change? It’s the defence of the Catalans. Last season, having conceded 38 goals in all competitions, they have conceded 18 already. With Pique being regularly inconsistent, and injuries to the fullbacks ever so frequent, it’s time for a change in formation to a back 3, or bring in youngsters of the famous La Masia to take up the slack of the current brittle defence. Barcelona have a real tough and demanding time ahead, but if they can successfully navigate these next 2 months, they can still save their season.