A weird season for Barcelona, as Lionel Messi just can’t seem to keep himself healthy for more than a few matches in a row, but without the team really hurting for it. Neymar might not be the scorer the Argentine is, but for all uses and purposes, he has no problem filling those shoes when it comes to simply keeping the team coasting on top of the Spanish La Liga.
So Neymar might not be Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi with their goal and something per game average, but he does enough besides just scoring. Neymar has gotten passed the only doing things for the team phase, feeling a lot more confident than before. Maybe it’s Messi being less and less on the pitch, or simply Neyamr feeling more at home now at Barcelona compared to the start. The cheeky dribbling and moving further and further away from the wing and taking on something of a free role but without getting careless.
The 4-0 win over Real Betis was also a chance for Pedro to improve his chances heading into the World Cup. Being left out of the lineup on most occasions has caused the Spanish winger some concern that Del Bosque might not keep him in the Spanish squad for Brazil if he doesn’t play enough minutes. Martino decided he’ll give the red hot Alexis Sanchez some rest, so Pedro got the opportunity to prove he’s just as good, especially in Barcelona’s second goal, with Pedro passing the ball to himself against the shambled Betis defense while Neymar avoided from being flagged offside, leading to a fantastic finish.
Against these teams, Cesc Fabregas has no problem being the false nine. Barcelona are getting more presence from other players compared to previous seasons in the box, so it’s not that vital anyway that Fabregas emulates Messi in every possible way. However, he did end up scoring twice, moving forward once Andres Iniesta was on the pitch for Messi, 22 minutes only gone by then. He doesn’t dribble or finish as well as Messi, but his scoring ability is more than enough against simple defenses.
Messi himself needs to rest. He didn’t start the season too healthy, and he hasn’t completely healed from the injury that kept him out for a couple of weeks. Barcelona are now six points ahead of Real Madrid and three away from Ateltico who dropped points at Villarreal. Messi can afford a bit more rest so he doesn’t have to hold himself back next time he returns, not to mention the rest of his teammates showing they can handle the current challenges without him.
Has the dream come true? Are Barcelona finally not a one-man team? Depends on the quality of the opponent, not to mention Barcelona’s problems not being solely connected to their goal-dependency. But with Neymar having no problem becoming the focal point of this offense, bringing in a different style of doing things, Messi taking a longer time to heal than he usually would doesn’t sound like a recipe for disaster.