Stage set for MSN

Barcelona’s 4-3 to Celta Vigo before the international break meant that their start to the season had been their worst for a decade. The fact of the matter is, though, any talk of a crisis is ridiculous.

Yes, they might not be performing in the way that we would expect from them at the moment, but that season 10 years ago, they actually went on to win a Champions League and La Liga double.

Moreover, with the exception of their 7-0 thrashing of Celtic, the Catalans have not yet been able to field their phenomenal attack this season, MSN. After Lionel Messi came off the bench to score in Barca’s 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend, however, the trio are ready to start together once again versus Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. 

The ability and talent of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is so blatantly obvious that it does not even need describing. One-hundred-and-thirty goals between them last term around tells the story, and their interchanges and passages of play are mesmerising sometimes. Despite one or even two of them missing at the start of the campaign, La Blaugrana were still expected to be at their best.

They were praised for the signings that they made over the summer, with lots of young, hungry talent coming in who increased competition for places and the strength in depth of a squad that has looked threadbare at times over recent years.

Denis Suarez and Samuel Umtiti have impressed intermittently, but naturally new players take a while to integrate and settle as Andre Gomes, Lucas Digne and Paco Alcacer have not had the best of starts to their Barca careers.

An alternative viewpoint is a simpler one, and one that also seems to be having a big effect on Argentina – Messi’s injuries. Luis Enrique’s side have lost twice so far, against Alaves and Celta, and their No 10 did not start either game. When that man is not present, things just don’t seem to run as smoothly, but it’s fair to say that any team in the world would miss him if he was not playing.

Speaking at his Press conference before the game against City, Enrique was asked about the prospect of having all of MSN fit, and the Coach was obviously glad to have his diminutive Argentine available.

“I think it is wonderful news that all three can be in the team, and it’s always great news to have Leo back,” Mundo Deportivo quotes him as saying. “Playing Messi between the lines or in a partnership offers us different possibilities. The more Leo participates the better, it clearly favours us.”

With Messi back in the fold, Barca can achieve anything, and Guardiola will testify exactly that. After all, he was the player around whom he built his extraordinarily successful team after moving him into a central position for the first time in his career. Now they face each other again, and Messi is bringing his friends to play too.