Sorry for the clickbait kind of title, but it was difficult to describe the following in a different way. When Barcelona play their next match (After the international break), they might become the first team to field three players with at least 50 goals in international competition each. Complicated? Let’s explain.
The Barcelona trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez could all be with at least 50 goals for their countries (Argentina for Messi, Brazil for Neymar and Uruguay for Suarez) after the break. Messi already has 56 goals, so it doesn’t matter what happens this week (at least in terms of goals, Argentina need him badly to score). Neymar has 49 goals for the Selecao, so he’ll probably reach 50 mark this week, with matches against Argentina and Peru. Suarez has 47 goals so it’s a bit more difficult, but he’s on fire for over a year now, and Edinson Cavani isn’t playing, so two matches and 3 goals doesn’t sound too far fetched.
Barcelona play Malaga next, and then Celtic in the Champions League. Suarez won’t be playing against Malaga due to yellow cards (big problem for Barcelona), so the opportunity, barring injuries, will come against Celtic, assuming Neymar scores one goal and Suarez scores 3. If not, than this distinctive achievement will be delayed for a few months.
Does this achievement actually mean anything? Two things:
- Barcelona have done an incredible job of putting together a trio of historically good players in the same frontline. One might say “so what, they have money”. That’s true. They’re rich. But a lot of clubs around the world have money, and they haven’t been able to do so, although this achievement has a lot to do with something that Barcelona can’t control
- It also speaks volumes for the difference in international football today compared to the pre-1990s era. There have been 50 players who have scored 50 international goals. 30 of those started their international careers after 1990. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia mean European teams play loads of qualifying games, often against minnows. Since 1998, South American teams have played 18 qualification games each cycle, instead of being divided into smaller groups. The Copa America is now established with a consistent number of teams, whereas it was hardly played in the 70s and had a confused structure in other decades. It’s easier to reach these numbers today
So while it’s not exactly a Barcelona achievement, it’s nonetheless unique, and maybe something that won’t be easily repeated, even if it’s easier putting together 50-goal careers while playing for your country.