While Barcelona keep on winning, there seems to be a minor problem growing within the team in the form of Lionel Messi not finding the net in four consecutive league matches, something that hasn’t happened in over two years.
Messi hasn’t scored a league goal in 301 minutes of La Liga football, his worst run since March 2011. He still has 8 goals in 10 league matches this season, but as people have come to expect a goal or two from Messi each match, there are no doubt some questions regarding his ability and even lack of activity in recent matches.
Messi did miss a few matches due to a hamstring injury, and it may be that he has returned a bit too soon from it. Messi didn’t shoot once at goal during the win over Real Madrid and only once against Espanyol. It also might be that teams have made it their goal to keep Messi from even attempting a shot. It comes at the expense of Neymar and Alexis Sanchez becoming the leading force in Barcelona’s attack, but the result remains the same.
Messi has scored in the Champions League – a typical, perfect balance type of goal in the 1-1 draw with AC Milan. The same, if not more, will be expected of him as the two teams meet against at the Camp Nou this week, with Barcelona on the brink of securing their spot in the round of 16 with two matches left to play in the group stage.
Messi does seem subdued in recent matches, and it possibly does have something to do with his injury. It hasn’t stopped Martino from playing him 90 minutes in all of the last three matches, which means it’s more of a rust thing than an actual pain that’s holding him back.
While this goal drought might be costing him in the race with Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Pichichi or the Champions League golden boot, Barcelona can feel quite happy about being a lot less dependent on Messi’ scoring ability this season, with Neymar adjusting to his new team quite well while Alexis Sanchez makes the most of the extra attention the two other forwards got.
I am still not at 100 percent physically, but I am sure that with the run of games I will pick up rhythm.