Barcelona aren’t a better team without Lionel Messi – no one can be better than what they are with the best player in the world. On the other hand, they are not helpless without him, as Cesc Fabregas, who seems to be the player the coaches feel most comfortable moving around, did the ‘false-nine’ position in Messi’s absence, with the same amount of accuracy and clinical finishing Messi possesses on his good days.
The La Liga doesn’t matter anymore – the title isn’t going away, and pretty soon, they’ll be able to clinch their fourth La Liga crown in five years, making it the first ever league title for Cesc Fabregas, who came close with Arsenal a few times and finished second last year with Barcelona, losing it to Real Madrid.
And while Mallorca are not PSG, Messi not being 100% fit for the second leg in the Champions League isn’t the end of the world, nor do Barcelona need to change their system in order to accommodate the change in the lineup. Fabregas is the most attacking of the famous midfield trio Barcelona have with Xavi and Andres Iniesta next to him, and is the most capable player on the roster to fill in for Messi in the withdrawn position between the wingers.
In a season that’s been filled with ups & downs for Fabregas, who has been moved around the pitch more than any other Barcelona player this season, always feeling like he’s surplus to requirements and excellence of Xavi and Iniesta, but most of the time, at least in the league and not in the big matches where he has yet to like he does against lesser opponents, Fabregas pays back the dividends of faith given to him.
As for a little touch of history, Fabregas becomes the first Spanish player to score a league hat trick for Barcelona since Luis Enrique in 2001. For a club so proud of its basis of home players, something like this should happen more than once every 13 years.
And as for PSG? The offensive setup will be different, with both Xavi and Messi out of the lineup in the 5-0 win over Mallorca, understandably. Cesc Fabregas, if he’ll start at all, will be moved back to the left side or somewhat of an attacking midfielder playing next to Andres Iniesta. While it’s pretty much impossible to move Lionel Messi for the middle, at least the option of mixing things up by moving him right for certain minutes and giving Fabregas more time between centre backs might be something those calling the shots, be it Roura or Vilanova, should start thinking about.