Something came up this morning while I was surfing the web. In fact, it hit me between the eyes at the speed of a freight train: Messi’s performance may hinder Barcelona’s title chances. Now, please hear me out. It’s not that he is not performing great; he still is the best in the world. However, these days he tends to drop into the midfield. This helps him control the game, distribute beautiful passes, and in general be a boss on the pitch.
There is cause for reflection, though. Amidst these electrifying performances for the club, there is a hole in their formation that opponents could exploit. Under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona played a position-based style of football. This meant that everyone had a place on the pitch that he belongs in; everyone had a zone to himself. Now, though Messi plays wherever he wants, his presence on the right side of attack was always lethal. Nowadays, though, Barcelona is shifting focus from that positional philosophy. They still get the goals, though. That’s not a problem.
The problem, as I see it, is this: the positional style of play ensured that Barcelona had total control of all areas of the pitch. The players trained themselves to the fullest on their positioning and zonal play. According to some, this made average players good, good players great, and great players unstoppable. However, the new system is gradually scrapping that philosophy. Now, they just give the ball to Messi, Suarez and Neymar. Also, nowadays, Messi drops into the midfield more often. This leaves just Suarez and Neymar up front. It also means that any team that can stifle Messi’s performance in midfield can make them pay. Not that its just so simple, though; maybe in a thousand years, but you get the idea.
Barcelona are no longer the possession-based monsters they used to be. Now, they depend more than ever on Messi’s performance, even more than their other awesome strikers. And this might come to bit them in the ass in the long run.