After every glorious Lionel Messi performance, comes the question: “How will football be like without Leo?”
After every trophy winning season, comes the question: “How will football be like without Leo?”
After every heroic moment the greatest footballer in the world pulls off, comes the question: “How will football be like without Leo?”
After that, comes the optimistic statement: “Let us just enjoy it all while it lasts.”
This is how a cule’s mind works. Fans are fully aware of the impact Lionel Messi has on the team and fear his absence. They fear it even for a single match. One can only imagine the meltdown that will take place when Lionel Messi is no longer part of FC Barcelona. Let’s be honest, everyone has already imagined that once or twice.
There are two things fans will worry about when it comes to Lionel Messi’s absence:
1. His temporary absence during a football season and how the team adapts.
2. His permanent absence which is also known as the day Leo leaves the club for any reason.
The interesting thing about this is that they both have the same solution but we’ll get to that.
What about Messi’s influence that is so important? Is it just because he is the best player in the world?
To analyze Messi’s influence, we should always go beyond the basic stats of goals, assists, and defensive contribution.
Messi has been the main man in attack for over 7 years. Again, this is not about the number of goals he ended up scoring or the number of assists he provided. This is about Lionel Messi supplying the oxygen to everything related to Barcelona’s attack. If you were to truly analyze Messi’s influence in attack since 2008 you would realize that counting his goals & assists seems ridiculously inaccurate. Messi, in some way or another, has been involved in almost 90% of Barcelona’s results since 2008. Whether by scoring, assisting, sending that astonishingly accurate pass into the area, receiving free-kicks, changing the tempo, dribbling 2 or 3 players to open up play, and many other important little details to Messi’s style of play, the man has been involved in each and every goal some way or another. You can also suggest that Messi’s presence alone can alter how a defender is seeing a match.
This was Messi’s side of the story. What about Barcelona?
Barcelona was structured in a way the past 7 years that forces some sort of dependence on Leo. It is a dependence no coach denied. He was suddenly the lead goal scorer, the lead chance creator, and basically the savior & game changing factor. He was the man holding an oxygen tank that he filled up on his own based on the importance of the match and competition he was playing. He continuously pumped this oxygen into Barcelona’s attack and was the main factor in the club’s tremendous success.
At this current stage of the 2015/2016 season, the team has to hold its breath because the main man, Lionel Messi, is injured. Much like every time Leo is injured, the team takes a couple of weeks to adapt to life without him. The team is not as magnificent and definitely not as effective but some way or another it manages to get the required three points(well, most of the time).
There is a phase right after he is removed from the lineup where you sense that each player is thinking: “Oh yeah, he is not here anymore. I guess I should make some different decisions.”
These decisions sometimes make certain players shine when Messi is not around while others might even find new roles for themselves.
Like a human being, the team adapts to change. But, in reality, how long can you really hold your breath?
What does this mean for the club after Messi leaves? Is it all over? Should we just call it a day and start looking for another club to support? You would be surprised, but some people are THAT devastated by the idea of Messi’s departure. They have the right to be upset, surely. However, they might have just forgotten what this club is all about.
In one of recent years’ most emotional departures(yes, I’m talking about Xavi), one of history’s best midfielders said: “Barcelona without Xavi? Barcelona will always be great. This has nothing to do with me”.
You can consider it a very humble answer from such a decorated player. But actually, Xavi said things as they are. The team will go on to succeed without Xavi. Nothing indicates that the team will win without Xavi from the very first season but the sure thing is that it’ll bounce right back up and end up victorious. The only question that remains is how many seasons does this team need to create a winning formula.
In our case, this same question applies to Lionel Messi. Once you get a hold of how crucial Messi has been for the team for at least the past 6 years, you will believe it will take a couple of seasons until Barcelona finds a new way to supply its oxygen.
Barcelona is well known for being dependent on one extremely talented footballer in attack. It is almost as if Barcelona moves from one South American genius to another. However it was not always about the player himself but how his coach structured the team to get the best out of him.
In other words, with a very capable coach and a set of talented players, the team will adjust itself after Messi’s departure to reach success once again. It might take a year(okay, too optimistic) or it might take 3, 4, or even 5 but a winning formula will be found. This is how this club works.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi will be sitting in his final press conference saying: “Barcelona without Messi? Barcelona will always be great. This has nothing to do with me”.