Barcelona had a narrow escape last year when an end-season slump saw Real Madrid almost catch up with them. But it was clear that the two Madrid sides were gradually becoming better prepared when it came to facing the Catalan giant. Luis Enrique had a pressing issue in the form of adding cover for the famed MSN as they didn’t really have a player who could step in and try to replicate even half of what Neymar and Suarez do. But they were in-principle unsuccessful as their main targets rejected a chance to move to Barcelona as a bench role was clearly evident.
But scoring goals was never a problem for them and isn’t even now. One of the main reasons why they haven’t been able to replicate their overall wholesome passing game consistently has been the uncertainty and the slump in their defensive ranks this year. And when further studied, most of it has been due to the unusual loss of form of Sergio Busquets. Here is a player who has been pivotal to what Barcelona have done over the years. He shields the defence, has an unflappable demeanour and dictates the pace of the game from his pivot.
Followers of the game have always gone beyond the likes of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi and appreciated Busquets’ role in their achievements. But this season, things haven’t been the same for him. Teams are more willing to attack Barcelona and have evolved and adjusted their tactics in order to try and isolate the players on the pitch. His speed or the lack of it, over a yard has been found out at times and his reactions haven’t been at their best.
While Barcelona fret over trying to figure out the way forward when Messi eventually retires, there are other areas on the pitch too which needs monitoring, maybe even sooner.
The likes of Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez have been signed in midfield with an eye on the future. They are certainly a part of the plan which is being put together to replace Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets. And while Iniesta and Xavi are indeed irreplaceable, the club has to try and minimalise their absence eventually.
And they can try and put their faith in the young blood and mould them for the long haul or else try and sign an established lad and look to integrate the likes of Gomes and Suarez with new signings.
Yes, Messi is synonymous with Barcelona but for the Blaugrana to carry on the Legacy, first they have to make sure that their midfield 3 is put in order.
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