For Barça, losing Messi isn’t a problem because there’s a bigger one happening now…

For Barça, losing Messi isn’t a problem because there’s a bigger one happening now…

Without a doubt, the recent 4-3 win at Camp Nou will be a memorable night for Real Betis to savour for years. The home defeat, for Barcelona, will certainly give a lot for the team to think about during the international break.

Not to mention that Atlético Madrid will be their opponents after the players return from their international duties. If they can’t beat Real Betis, chances are Barcelona will be dropping points against their title rivals at Wanda Metropolitano.

So let’s be honest, Barcelona, despite being the first in La Liga, will need to do something in order to become greater in Europe.

There’s one thing that Barcelona supporters will all agree on: losing Leo Messi as their star player to retirement from football is a big deal for the Catalan club – unless they can sign a decent replacement for the Argentine.

However, as a Culé myself, I have an unpopular opinion on this. I believe that there is a huge assignment that Ernesto Valverde must finish before it’s too late to mend the damage caused. That is, fixing the defence of the squad.


If you know Barcelona well, you’ll know that the guy inside the featured image is Carles Puyol. Having played as a defender in his career, he’s the former captain of Barcelona before passing the armband to Andrés Iniesta.

In the meantime, Valverde loves to stick to his trustworthy four-man defence: Sergi Roberto (or Nélson Semedo), Gerard Piqué (or Thomas Vermaelen), Clément Lenglet (or Samuel Umtiti) and Jordi Alba.

The thing is, while Piqué is clearly the most experienced player in the back half, he himself is regressing.

At 31, Piqué is ageing and started to make mistakes which cost the squad the precious points. I could still remember how awful he was when his wrong pass gifted Leganès the winning goal.

The rest are, certainly, better but it’s still horrifying to contemplate.

Meanwhile, where are the La Masia defenders who only got chances in the Copa del Rey? Why aren’t the best performers given a chance to play in La Liga?

Also, Valverde tends to ask his players (defenders included) to push forward to create chances to score.

While it’s nice to feed the ball to the forwards (somehow accustomed to Messi’s needs), the midfield and defence become vulnerable at the back.

Without a doubt, when the opposition decided to launch a counter-attack, say, after a failed corner attempt, chances are the whole Barcelona defence will be caught off-guard and they’ll be able to find the back of the net.


Now you may ask, “what does it do with Puyol?”

I’d say, Barcelona must be in search for a leader who’ll be doing the stuff Puyol did in the past. The current XI tends to lose concentration when they take the lead, so there should be someone who’ll tell his teammates not to be too confident in winning.

This is also the reason Barcelona were eliminated from the Champions League last season.

The squad did win 4-1 at Camp Nou, but we know that the travelling squad lost 3-0 away with Manolas netting the decisive goal to knock the Catalan club out, owing to the away goal rule by the UEFA.

I’m not sure if it’ll help to turn the tide for Barcelona to advance to the semi-final but I certainly believe that if Puyol was in the team, they wouldn’t have lost badly and got beaten by the Italians.


“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles” – Sir Alex Ferguson

It is one of my favourite quotes in football. Trophies may not matter but the performance of the team does. Unfortunately, Piqué may be the only current player who can do the job. Perhaps a new name in the dressing room needed at Camp Nou?

Be it a foreign player or a homegrown talent, Barcelona should be conscious about the development of the whole future lineup instead of just focusing on replacing Messi. If Bartomeu’s men in the transfer section don’t look into this issue, it’s going to be costly.

And I’m pretty glad that Barcelona lost to Betis. Why? It forces Valverde to rotate his squad to replace the suspended Rakitić so that either Denis Suárez or Carles Aleñá can get a berth in the starting eleven, even for just a few games.

It’s the best time for Barcelona to start “Project Messi” now

It’s the best time for Barcelona to start “Project Messi” now

We all know how crucial Messi can be when he’s on the pitch with his fellow teammates, no matter which jersey he dons. He’s the kind of player who masters everything and works hard to perfect his skills, which makes him special.

For football fans, it is unarguably to say that Leo Messi is one of the players who deserve to be called the “greatest of all time”, or the G.O.A.T. as we call them. But the cruel truth is, Barcelona will experience a downfall if they don’t plan for life without him.


We all know what Real Madrid is experiencing after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus. With Los Blancos headed to the international break without winning any of the four games they’ve played, this could serve as a warning to their fierce rivals.

For Barcelona, Messi is more than just a legendary player. He’s the icon of the club and to be honest, as a player, it’ll certainly affect Barcelona if the Argentine decided to call it a day in his professional football career.

Without Messi, Barcelona won’t be a bigger club than we’ve possibly imagined. Without Barcelona, he wouldn’t be the superstar he is now. Barcelona gives Messi the resources for him to thrive while Messi returns goals and points for the team.

Now, here’s the question, “what may Barcelona experience when Messi retires?” I believe that there won’t be an absolute answer for it since the future is unpredictable in the football world.

However, there’s one thing for sure – without a suitable reinforcement to play in Messi’s position, Barcelona will struggle in finding the back of the net, just like what happened to Real Madrid these days without their Portuguese leading man.


Messi is irreplaceable and the only thing Barcelona can do is to find a player with identical, technical skills like him. It doesn’t matter if he’s from La Masia, other big clubs or somewhere else. The aim of the project is that they must find someone like Messi.

It doesn’t mean that Messi’s successor must shoot with his left foot and has a short height, though. For Barcelona, the most important quality of the “chosen one” is that he’ll need to consistently score a lot of goals to help the team to clinch the 3 points and secure the trophies they can get.

From the board’s perspective, they may want to seek help from the transfer market in order to get the proven talents outside. What matters to them is money. Hence, I won’t be surprised if one of the “big names” will be posing with the Blaugrana jersey soon.

However, let’s not forget that Barcelona has a lot of youngsters at their disposal, like Malcom, Munir, Ousmane Dembélé, Aleñá and Abel Ruiz. They may consider recalling Alcácer, who is currently on fire and started to score loads of goals in the Bundesliga. Still, he’s nowhere close to Messi.

As a Barcelona follower myself, other than buying players, I would want to see the local boys to take place of our Argentine hero. I wish the board can make good use of our very own “talent-based” La Masia to expand our brand of “més que un club” for a little bit.

Therefore, “Project Messi” may not be a problem in the long-term if it pays off eventually. But it all depends on the board (especially Josep Bartomeu himself) on the attitude of the matter and eventually, how they decide to execute the strategies.

The current Barcelona squad is good but they’ll need to stop relying heavily on Messi to become better. Barcelona aren’t a one-man team, after all. Thankfully, the future of Barça is in safe hands, so let’s see how Bartomeu will formulate a plan for them.

What happened to star defenders?

What happened to star defenders?

Tuesday this week was the birthday of one of the greatest footballers of all time, in my opinion: Franz Beckenbauer. The German played nineteen years of football for Bayern Munich, Hamburg and the New York Cosmos, as well as making over one hundred appearances for West Germany. He won nineteen trophies as a player, including the World Cup, the Euros and three European Cups. Oh, and he managed a Ballon d’Or or two. Beckenbauer was a star.

And yet he wasn’t banging in the goals like those we admire today. He wasn’t playing in the forwards or setting up chances, and he only broke the ten-goal barrier once, back when he was in the second tier as a youngster. No, Beckenbauer was at the other end, getting tackles in from anywhere and everywhere, marshalling the defence and looking to get the ball up the other end. He was one of the first, if not the very first sweeper in top-level football. He was immensely popular, and it’s not like his talent wasn’t recognised – after all, he won two Ballons d’Or. But what about those players now?

Image result for hummels tackle of the season

It’s not like we’ve got a shortage of talented defenders. Ramos, Varane, Pique, Boateng, Hummels, Kompany, Azpilicueta, Chiellini and that’s just centre-backs. Wider out there’s Alba, Alaba, Kimmich, Carvajal, Marcelo, Danilo, and the greatest player of all time, Seamus Coleman. And yet despite this talent, players who have been doing this for years on end, we’ve decided to focus almost exclusively on forwards.

Just look at the shortlists for the FIFA awards. Last year, twenty-four players were shortlisted for the Best Men’s Player – four were defenders. In 2016, there was just one on the list, and this year, there was also only one (out of ten this time). No defender had been in the final three for the award since 2006 when Fabio Cannavaro won in 2006, and that victory wasn’t as clear-cut as others from its time period.

In part this doesn’t surprise me – after all, would you rather watch Messi or Cristiano score goals and terrorise defences, or Ramos or Pique trying to organise a defence and clear the ball away? There’s a reason FIFA have the Puskas Award for best goal and not one for best tackle or block. But it isn’t something that’s going away soon.

Image result for mathieu peybernes save

Take the World Team of the 20th century, for example. The front six is about what you’d expect, with the slots going to Pele and Garrincha, plus Maradona, di Stefano, Cruyff and Platini. But it’s in defence where the names become less recognisable – Nilton Santos, anyone? Beckenbauer joins Moore, Nilton and Carlos Alberto in a sturdy defence.

But it’s clear to see the gap in recognition between the two groups. For Nilton and Carlos Alberto, these are their only individual awards (alongside the FIFA 100, Pele’s list of people he likes). Beckenbauer of course has two Ballons ‘Or and three World Cup All-Star Team selections, and Moore has one selection to the same team. That’s ten awards across the defence, less than Pele by himself and as many as Diego Maradona. Neither of them were eligible for the Ballon d’Or but the awards have been retroactively reevaluated and alternate winners announced – Pele, Maradona and Garrincha get ten. Add on the seven extra from Cruyff, di Stefano and Platini and the massive gap starts to become evident.

What can be done to fix this, if it even requires fixing? I don’t know. People will always be drawn to the obvious flair, the talent that doesn’t require effort to spot. They’ll find more enjoyment in watching a Kevin de Bruyne scorcher rip into the corner than they will watching Mats Hummels get a toe in and knock the ball out for a corner. It’s unfortunate to see people choose Beckham over Beckenbauer or Socrates over Sokratis, but that’s football.

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