The argument about whether Barcelona’s defense is a solid one or a defense that’s merely benefitting from the “Attack is the best form of defense” cliché has been on for years. Since the Guardiola years I suppose (Puyol or not) – although my friend Kolawole thinks it started since the Rijkaard days.
Recently, Barcelona have answered the question themselves. They’ve been unable to “outscore” their opponents in recent games which was (and is still) their most deadly weapon. Their “total football” has not been so total of late.
Now their opponents have been scoring against them. They’re coming out to play against the Catalans more. They’re no more scared. What they used to be scared of is dying. Or at least has been used up so much, it is dying. That “it” is the famous MSN Gang: Messi, Suarez and Neymar.
MSN, a name that usually terrify defenders (still should) have hit an unfamiliar patch. Two goals in the last three games makes MSN look below par, makes C. Ronaldo look like the best in the world again and makes Barcelona toothless.
For a front 3 that have combined for more than hundred goals this season, it looks like the foot is off the pedal… at the wrongest of times! First, they lost against Real Madrid in their own backyard. Then they lost to Real Sociedad, throwing open the race for the La Liga title.
In the Champions League, Barcelona struggled against Atletico Madrid. Of course these days, a struggling Barcelona is a struggling MSN. Why? When the MSN Gang is alive, Barca is unbeatable. Remember the legendary 39-game unbeaten run?
Or maybe the underlying problem is not the front three but the rest of the team and squad? Maybe I have focused too much on the trio from the South American part of the world and ignored the fact that a football team consists of 11 men, not 3.
Thinking about it, Barcelona’s midfielders haven’t stepped up to score goals. This is very much unlike other teams in the Europe. Most teams are set up to have their midfielders deputize as goalscorers. That is, when the strikers are having a bad day, the midfielders start scoring. Not this Barcelona.
Or is it the lack of depth in the squad that is finallyv coming to haunt them? It should be noted that there really isn’t any quality substitution when MSN are on the pitch. Maybe it is because no player with great skills will want to be on the bench while they play. Maybe that is why the Gang has been used up so much.
Maybe it’s just Barcelona tiring. Or it may be that teams are now defending against MSN better. Maybe they’ve given off so much that they’re now exhausted. I wonder, “Is the fun is over?” No one knows. Only time will tell.
You can catch up with me on twitter @rotdav
Author: Rotimi “Papi the Great” Daramola
Rotimi Daramola aka Papi the Great is the owner of ForTheGoal.
A freelance sports writer who focuses on football, Rotimi is also a freelance writer, a copywriter and a football analyst who regularly appears on radio and television to talk football. You can follow him on twitter @papi_thegreat to keep up with his writings, engage him and also find out about how you can secure his writing services.