Barcelona FC has been playing with fun and flair for the better part of the season to an extent that pundits have predicted they will be the first team in history to retain the UEFA Champions League. Since the beginning of the season, the club has had some very good results and was seemingly running away with the Liga BBVA title. Their tiki-taka style of play is accompanied by a deadly trio (Messi, Suarez and Neymar) who are scoring for fun.
However, the team has struggled and stumbled in the recent past having taken just one point from a possible nine in the last three games. The poor performance has allowed the two Madrid clubs (i.e. Real and Atletico) to close the gap at the top and get back into the title race. Despite the flair and goals that have become characteristic of Barcelona’s season, recent performances and results have indicated otherwise.
In addition to poor performances in the league, Barcelona’s progression into the semi-finals of the Champions League hangs in the balance following a narrow 2-1 home victory over Atletico Madrid. Messi’s seeming inability to find the back of the net has also hurt the Catalans despite the scoring abilities of Neymar and Suarez. Following their 0-1 loss to Real Sociedad on Saturday, Lionel Messi failed to score for the fourth straight game despite having seven shots on goal.
So what’s ailing Barcelona? According to Guillem Balague, a Spanish Football Expert and Columnist, Barcelona have struggled in recent games because of their over-reliance on the front three. The team’s reliance on Messi, Suarez & Neymar (MSN) has resulted in abandonment of collective work from the rest of the squad. Therefore, when efforts by MSN are insufficient, the team is unable to identify collective answers to problems. When you have an attack that wins you every game, it’s natural for the team to stop working on things that generate good results and take collective responsibility. Barcelona players are giving less work on organized attack and collective performance because of reliance on the front three.
It’s quite obvious that Messi, Suarez and Neymar have contributed lots of goals and points to the team over the past two seasons. I can’t think of any other attack in world football that has scored as many goals as Barcelona’s deadly trio. However, Barcelona’s over-reliance on these three rather than collective work is hurting the team.