Despite the perception, Lionel Messi and Barcelona don’t always win the Spanish La Liga championship. However, it’s been a rare occasion to see them fail locally over the last five years, which makes this season somewhat hard to stomach for Barca fans who tend to ignore everything that happens outside the Camp Nou.
Messi is scoring, but something is off. Maybe it’s the injury and rust that still have their effect on him. Maybe all the noise and drama about things that have nothing to do with football for both him and other players at Barcelona are taking their toll. Maybe playing under a manager who isn’t part of the Barcelona system makes that much of a difference.
One thing is certain: Atletico Madrid aren’t going away unless injuries start hitting them, and so far they’ve had the good fortunes to steer clear of these problems.
But there’s more than just Atletico to worry about. Barcelona are back in the same situation they were before signing Neymar for what now seems to be an astronomical fee. Real Madrid are tied with Barcelona for points, and host the next Clasico. Neymar is injured at the moment, while the defense isn’t closer to fixing its problems than it was two years ago. We’re back to square one, with Lionel Messi shouldering everything, only with a team that seems inferior to those of the past, partially due to some players aging or some changes in the lineup over the years.
Barcelona seem fragile – something that has been a part of this team for the last couple of seasons in the Champions League, but now it’s also trickled down to the La Liga. Injuries, tactics that everyone recognize and maybe a sense of “we’ve been there, we’ve done that” for most players, while those who have joined Barcelona to win everything feel they’re on a ship that’s going in the wrong direction.
It’s only one home loss, and only two points behind Atletico Madrid. Things are blown out of proportions in sports and especially in the La Liga championship race. However, there’s a sense that there’s something tired and empty in the Barcelona machine, and it’s going to take more than a healthy Messi to make it all better this time.