Messi, Suarez and Neymar, why they work so well together

Sports cinema is littered with cult classics, movies that stick to a basic plot line: rag-tag group is assembled, something happens to make them come together, they succeed against all odds. From “Major League” to “Slap Shot,” chronicles abound of seemingly strange bedfellows making magic at the precise right time.

Real life is also festooned with examples, but as we take just a glancing look at what makes Messi, Suarez and Neymar work so well together (and apologies for digging up yet another Michael Jordan parallel), the best example can be found in the Chicago Bulls teams that were graced with Dennis Rodman. It’s a successful partnership with roots in need, a symbiotic linkage that can produce magic.

For the unfamiliar, Rodman was a mess. Not a hot mess, just a mess. But he could do one thing better than anyone else in the National Basketball Association: get rebounds. The then Bulls coach Phil Jackson correctly surmised that if you gave a great attack even more opportunities to score by also getting the best rebounder in the game, success should follow.

The complexity was that Rodman was a head case that Jackson had to integrate into an already smoothly functioning Bulls team. Three elements were essential to that integration: trophy lust, a last chance and Michael Jordan.

Every player wants championships. That’s the most obvious one. But Rodman’s litany of behavior problems was long, and limited the possible teams that he could go to. The Bulls showed up like a glittering lifeline — the best team in the game, led by the best player in the game, wanted to sign him up. He had to behave, or the fancy life of an NBA superstar was at risk. But the third aspect of the Rodman trilogy was the biggest, in Michael Jordan.

Jordan wanted to win. Jordan wanted to do whatever it took to win. You were either with him, or against him in a world bereft of middle ground. Rodman had to behave, as much for the superstar as the coach, or he was done. And so he did, dyed hair and all, becoming an integral part of a championship Bulls team and also bringing to mind, in the here and now, Luis Suarez.

Suarez wasn’t a hot mess, but he was a rash of disciplinary problems. It will forever be unknown whether his Italian carry-out snack at the World Cup affected his market power, but Barça came calling. As with Rodman, this was a glittering lifeline. And as with talented players who had behavior complexities such as Balotelli, the clock was ticking, and Suarez had to make this work. As with Jordan, Barça had Messi, who wants to win with a fervor identical to that possessed by any great player. The “dictator” talk is a myth, but you can rest assured that Messi will tolerate no impediments to his success. Suarez had to behave for Barça, but he also had to meet the expectations of the best player in the game.

rodman

Rodman was relentless. He fouled, pushed, shoved and got under the skin of opponents. He moved constantly in his single-minded task to perform his role to the best of his ability, and he was extraordinary at it. Substitute Suarez for Rodman, and you have the exact same kind of player, right down to the histrionics. Rodman was noted for taking charge fouls. An opponent would run into him and he would fall back, arms and legs akimbo, sliding across the hardwood as if struck by a bus. Note Suarez, when he is fouled.

The dirty secret, of course, is that the Bulls/Barça needed Rodman/Suarez every bit as much as the player needed that second chance, that opportunity to walk the straight and narrow and while they were at it, take part in unprecedented success.

Messi and Neymar were lovely, but Barça needed a 9, and not just any 9. That team needed a pain in the ass that could score goals, an Eto’o for the modern age. Was cost no object? Almost assuredly. Some will suggest that Liverpool got fleeced in that deal, that Suarez, in a world in which Gareth Bale cost 100m, 80m was a bargain. Maybe. The challenge was fitting him into a team that already had two stars.

When Neymar came to Barça, it was, in his words, because he wanted to play with Messi. That’s certainly part of it, but you don’t have to be much of a cynic to see that Neymar has a program, and Barça is part of it. Much was made of him turning down the dazzling millions of Real Madrid for the opportunity to ply his wares in Catalonia, but look at the situations.

RM was a wide-open team, that already had a superstar player at the position Neymar liked to play. So then what? Barça had nobody in that position, in effect. It was a role ready for Neymar to move in, like a house furnished with the best in appointments with folks such as Messi, Iniesta, Xavi and Busquets.

Barça was also a disciplined team, which suited the needs of Neymar — a system that he could be part of, a way to demonstrate that he could control his mercurial skills in the service of a greater good. And there was also Messi, the best player in the game, a player that it was essential Neymar play with, rather than against. Moving to Barça was a slam dunk, aided again by the Messi factor. Like Suarez, Neymar already knew that Messi would take no nonsense, that the club with a history of jettisoning the biggest superstars when they became difficulties wouldn’t take any guff from him. But again, Barça needed him as much as he needed Barça.

The biggest reason Messi, Neymar and Suarez works is because of fear, and hunger. Nobody wants to screw up, particularly when you have been given the opportunity to perform something extraordinary. Suarez needed the opportunity. Neymar needed the finishing school, Messi needed players capable of allowing him to expand his game, and win more trophies.

It all seems so simple, yet people are surprised at how well the trio work together, at the selflessness evinced by the three best attackers in the game. It isn’t Ronaldo not celebrating with the rest of the team when someone else scores a goal. It’s Neymar, laughing and using a pet name for Suarez after the Uruguayan took a goal that was meant for him. Messi set up that goal because he doesn’t need any more goals. He does need a focused, fully committed team around him, and two of the most crucial components are Suarez and Neymar.

Jordan used to call the Bulls “my supporting cast.” It wasn’t until he started thinking of that group as a team that he was part of, that things really began to soar. On a lesser team, Suarez would have come in as the big man, THE man. What would that have led to? Who knows, for a man whose demons often hover dangerously close to public view, even now. With Messi, he is the striker. Not The Man, but the striker. Neymar can’t be the (let’s face it) prick that he was a lot of the time at Santos, because he is sharing a lineup with a collection of consummate professionals, led by the best of them all.

Commentators are used to the context of players and egos, so the situational selflessness of Barça’s powerhouse front three seems weird. The Real Madrid Galacticos were great players with no real incentive to work well together. They were baubles, rather than part of a plan. It’s a similar problem that we see in Manchester City. It’s expensive assembled parts, but when everyone is a chef accustomed to making the souffle, who performs the more mundane task of dicing the veggies? Nobody on that roster has the whip hand. At Barça, Messi does.

But Messi doesn’t wield that power the way that Ibrahimovic used to at PSG, a sometimes petulant despot. Messi leads by example. You can’t act like a superstar with a massive ego, because he doesn’t. How can you prance around when the best midfielder in the world silently goes about his job, sporting a haircut inspired by his daughter’s favorite cartoon character? It’s an odd sort of tyranny, one that Ibrahimovic rebelled against, scoffing at the “schoolboys” of Barça. But that classroom discipline and control were precisely what was needed by Neymar and Suarez, who are thriving in that environment. You can’t be the best when somebody else is. All you can do is work to meet the class standard.

What’s most important is not, however, the teacher, even as Luis Enrique has an immense role. It’s the quiet kid in the corner, the genius whose science experiment is going to win the competition. Everyone wants to be on the team with him, so they do what is necessary. It’s simple, when you think about it.

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In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

57 Comments

  1. georgjorge
    February 15, 2016

    This is an incredible article for me, eye-opener and all. Thank you.

    With modern football being what it is, “fear and hunger” being the main reasons for this front three working together so well seems very plausible. Let’s hope their relationship of mutual benefit lasts a long time.

    I wonder, though, how Messi comes off against Xavi in terms of (direct or indirect) control over the team. After all, Xavi still was around for two years after Neymar was signed, and he might have taught him a thing or two about these things as well. But I agree that the way Messi controls the team is – like everything he does on the pitch – genius, not continously chastising or directing his team-mates but leading by example. I think that Neymar is getting there as well for a bit, at least when Messi is injured, but still has some way to go in this regard.

  2. G6O
    February 15, 2016

    There is an interesting thought question — would they have worked together as well as they do now if they were assembled together at another team and at once?

    I have doubts — a lot of the credit has to go to the collective culture in the club, how it has been established over the years, from Cruyff’s time forward, and how it gets transmitted to the new players that come on.

    That is what Madrid seem unable/unwilling to understand. Which I am very happy about, of course.

  3. G6O
    February 15, 2016

    One more thing to note:

    Once-in-a-generation offensive talent usually shines at a very early age (midfielders and defenders are a different story) — that the potential to become an all-time great was there was apparent while they were teens in the cases of both Messi and Cristiano (the latter might have been a inefficient showboater when he was 17, but despite the inefficiency in his play, nobody at 17 has made fools of EPL defenders before or after that so consistently). The same was true for Neymar more recently, who was seen as the next big thing when he was 17, as it was for the original Ronaldo and Ronaldinho prior to that.

    In this day and age, with Youtube compilations for every moderately good academy player and worldwide scouting networks, it is even harder to miss such a player when he appears. Thus I can confidently say that there is nobody in the 18-24 age bracket who is going to be a better player than Neymar. And we have him. So we should be OK for the next 5 years or so. Hopefully, the next such player emerges either from La Masia or we manage to get him first.

  4. bwullur
    February 15, 2016

    Its a perfect analogy with the Jordan’s Chicago Bulls who needs Rodman an Pipen all all the supporting casts… Thanks for the article. Its an eye-opener

  5. FinallyCrushingBuses
    February 16, 2016

    My theory is still that Suarez intentionally bit Chellini so he wouldn’t have to back to England. His goals had put England out of the World Cup, so going back there to face drunken racist taunts and booing at away and maybe even home games was not a very pleasant prospect. So he bit a player in a game they were leading, preferring to take his chances on the transfer market.

    • G6O
      February 16, 2016

      That makes no sense — Uruguay still had a lot to play for, and I just can’t imagine he is the kind of players who would do such a thing to his country at the WC.

    • FinallyCrushingBuses
      February 17, 2016

      I’m just positing a theory of why he did that. Your comment makes no sense, as his action absolutely resulted in a negative effect on Uruguay’s chances, as he was banned by FIFA for four months.

  6. February 16, 2016

    Excellent article this was. I wish, news papers from my fellow country publish it, with translations if required. I wish it so deeply.

    I did say this few weeks before here, that everybody was overlooking the fact, the so called catalyst in this MSN relationship, has to be Messi. This is the man who welcomed two new superstars without any egos and gave them all support. Even in other life situations, in offices or wherever, this kind of a welcome is extremely rare. Kevin has put it across in an ever more eloquent way, that Messi too wished to have more better players around him than before.

    • Manish
      February 16, 2016

      What a brilliant idea.. i am going to ask some folks back home to request for some of the articles to be published of-course with the permission of the author. Most of them are just brilliant.

  7. raj
    February 16, 2016

    FOTOBIRAJESH and me were discussing all the issues going on in India in name of nationalism and we both agree that football is the only bright spark which brings a smile to our face.

    Really lucky that we have this assembly of great players coming together at this point in time to create magic.

    However, what I don’t like is the term MSN. Iniesta, for me at least, is as good as a Saurez or a Neymar but with different role in the whole picture. So is Busquets, and to an extent Pique in current form. It is disservice to these three great players to exclude only MSN. I am sure that we would not be able to win trophies if not for the solidity that these three provide (and only these three can in the world today)

    • Davour
      February 16, 2016

      But don’t you see – it’s intentional, this strategy of highlighting MSN to hide our real weapons – Iniesta’s stealth and Busi’s control and Piqué’s dominance. In the shade of MSN, they can work in peace… a diversion, a distraction!

  8. Jim
    February 16, 2016

    Agreed entirely, Raj. It is beyond me why both Busi and Pique are not really recognised much outside our fan base as being world class players. I think in part it’s because outsiders don’t really think very much about our style of play.

    In many other sides Busi’s task would just be as ball winner. One of the best was Makalele but no way did he have the skills he would have needed to play Busi’s position in our system. Likewise with Pique. Our CBs have to hold a ridiculously high line and judge when to drop off, play most of their lives with absent FB so they get drawn wide more than most, accept hospital balls with attackers bearing down on them and have the courage to play out of defence into an often packed midfield. On top of that Pique’s positioning and judgement are both world class and over the last three seasons his aerial power has been a lifeline. Basically, apart from Mathieu, he has to get to all cross balls or we’re in trouble.

    So they are both outstanding imo, and hopefully folk won’t always feel they have to add the caveat, “given current form” when praising Pique. Just think how we’d feel if his hip acts up and he’s out of both Arsenal ties ?

    However, having said that, and acknowledging that, at least in my opinion, we have seven genuine world class players in our lineup, the constant differentiator is the front three. They are crazy brilliant and the ultimate game changer. Nobody could seriously think that Ronaldo would ever get a game ahead of them in our lineup. It’s why I still struggle to identify the extent of LE’s hand in this. I just don’t know. Our defence improved set piece defending and the FBs aren’t absent quite so much which was a cause of a lot of trouble but apparently that’s Unzue’s job. What does LE actually say to the front three each match ? I’d certainly give him credit for Iniesta’s improved defensive capabilities and for seeing something in SR that I didn’t see and the squad is now undoubtedly happy which wasn’t always the case so he gets some of the plaudits there. He may well complete the unheard of double treble

    Anyway, I’m one to talk. I predicted we would not form a consistent CB partnership, continue to ignore the midfield, have multiple front three injuries this year and would, as a result not win either of the big two trophies and LE would walk away. Not feeling too secure in that prediction at the moment !!!

  9. Manish
    February 16, 2016

    “How can you prance around when the best midfielder in the world silently goes about his job, sporting a haircut inspired by his daughter’s favorite cartoon character” – can’t find a reference article for this one.. anyone??

    • February 16, 2016

      You may have to go back some weeks before, when Iniesta first appeared with that hair style, and there were more than a few articles about it, Sorry, I dont remember exactly.

  10. dl
    February 16, 2016

    I’m really curious about the inner workings of barca, actually. Depending on my mood and the angle I approach things, nearly everyone on the team seems to be a very quiet ‘leader’ type. I realize that is overstating things a little bit — for example probably nobody would call Rakitic a leader at barca — but consider these characters: Mascherano, Pique, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi….. It is tempting to see the GOAT as the person who makes it all happen, but I think that is an example of a very common mistake in science (and elsewhere) of conflating causation and correlation.

    Instead, I think it is more likely that everybody, and I really mean everybody, sees the team first and themselves and individual glory second. I am sure Iniesta would be secretly thrilled to be nominated (let alone win) a ballon d’or, but I also somehow picture him being honestly distressed that his winning would mean that any number of others would not have been nominated before him. Of the entire team, possibly the two players who most seem to be showmen (Alves and Neymar) happen also to be brazilian — no coincidence I’m sure — yet they also have managed to meld completely into the team.

    I remember when Mathieu signed (from Valencia? I can’t remember) and a significant part of his contract, which I don’t recall getting very much publicity at the time, was that he agreed to a relatively small salary in return for large incentives if the TEAM did well. To me it is clear that he really really wanted to play with the rest of the guys, and trusted that it would all work out. Similarly Turan and Vidal, both at the absolute heights of their careers, agreed to sit on the bench for half a season just so they could play at barca. Where else does one hear of such a thing happening? These are all clear instances of players working hard to fit into a team, and making significant sacrifices to make it work.

    Messi’s season a couple of years ago where he scored 100 goals or something like that was very much an anomaly, I think. He did it because he had to, not because he wanted to score so many. I think he is very very happy scoring, assisting, causing havoc together with the rest of the guys, and would prefer to play this way over any other. The fact that he, of all people, happens to ‘walk the walk’ rather than just pay lip service, is just icing on the cake.

    • kosby
      February 16, 2016

      I think you made some pretty interesting points DL. To add to your point, the core of the team has been the same for a long long time now. And that definitely breeds the culture wherein everyone is willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team – examples being all the ones you mentioned already. Interestingly, the root of the team has been homegrown – that humility, work and single minded pull towards playing a certain style. And as and when we’ve added a few players from outside, they have largely assimilated into the team themselves while maintaining some of their character and originality. And this is where it gets a little scary, when the first team is composed of more players bought than homegrown, how do you ensure that the team culture is maintained. I didnt watch much of their football, but is this what happened during the galacticos era at M*drid ? The flip side to this is having all home grown players with similar profiles – the lack of a “Suarez” type figure (maybe the CL games we played under Guardiola against Inter/Chelsea ?). Achieving that balance is what seems to be most important – something that Lucho Enrique looks to have obtained.

  11. Jim
    February 16, 2016

    The CL is back ! Looking forward to this. Especially as Xavi recommended Verratti and Ai quite fancied Marquinhos before he went to PSG. Also interested to see how Pedro copes against a weakened Chelsea defence.

  12. Jim
    February 16, 2016

    Wait, Cesc as double DM ? Can that end well ?

  13. Jim
    February 16, 2016

    And another chance to see my old favourite, Maxwell, for whom I took dog’s abuse for defending when he was with us. He’s still at the top level, guys !

  14. Jim
    February 16, 2016

    PSG fortunate, I thought. Wouldn’t worry about facing either of these teams. Impressed by a less than fit Verratti but not by Marquinhos – or either of the CBs actually. They both have a rare knack of being in the wrong place too often for me. Great game by Maxwell. If he’d got forward like that for us he wouldn’t be playing there. Chelsea pretty good and quick on the counter . Pedro enjoying the open spaces more than he got at Barca.

    • georgjorge
      February 16, 2016

      Not to sound too arrogant, but I thought PSG looked slightly like a caricature of 2009-2011 Barca. Lots of slick passing, but – in contrast to that Barca – a lack of vision, which led to many sideways passes and an inability to maintain succesful counterattacks in general. I like the way they try to play, but they don’t seem to manage it often enough against quality opposition.

    • February 17, 2016

      I could watch only the second half and hence Jim, I dont u.stand why PSG was fortunate. If they had somebody else in place of Zlatan, they might have had more flowing movements which might have threatened Chelsea. It got better with Cavani coming in. I thought, PSG plays a good passing game, but at least for yday night, their problem looked like a bit like that of Argentina. In there every one pass to Messi and stops still. Here, Motta pas to Veratti and stops. Veratti passes to DeMaria and stops. Matuidi pass to Ibra and then stops. Ibra stops after making even a silly touch. They have the quality to make a faster flowing passing game, but they were not. May be it was just yesterday. Whatever, they looked like a much better team than Chelsea. With a bit more of movement from 7 or 8 players they could have wreaked havoc.
      I agree, Maxwell was good.

  15. Tata2
    February 16, 2016

    Until Cavani came on, PSG were playing with a static/false 9 in ibra and this played right into Chelsea’s defensive game plan. Notice how once Cavani came on was mobile making those runs, they found him and he scored. This made me see the value of Suarez more, you definitely need him to unsettle and unlock parked buses.

  16. Lord Eddard Stark A.K.A BrichimbrodvOken, the vulnerable one
    February 16, 2016

    .

    The title of this entire article could be answered in just one word.

    Humility.

    I think that’s basically the crux of it.

    A rare kind of humility exists in all three guys. Guys who are the stars of their respective countries that also happen to be eternal rivals. Their unquestionable technique, talent and ability is only matched by their genuine, NORMAL and humble personalities.

    Admittedly, Neymar will evolve into a more “me” guy, but right now and so far, he has had a most commendable attitude. It can be summed up his quote when he arrived – “I’m here to help messi, my idol remain the best player in the world”.

    Suarez is just a nice guy. A street player who only wants to win and can get annoying in pursuit of victory in difficult circumstances. But still, a nice, normal family man. It’s Something that a lot of his teammates say when asked about Luisito in the dressing room and off the field.

    And even though this article compares Messi to Jordan and Suarez to Rodman. Messi may be Jordanesque in the ability department. But nowhere close to Jordan in the ego department.

    This is why these guys thrive so well together.

    Another question worth pondering is, would this MSN work as well with the peak messi of 2009-2012? It is an interesting thing.
    A reason why msn works so well now also has to do a lot with the evolution of leo into a more mature, less anarchic player, not to mention the center space he has vacated to accommodate others. That peak messi was everywhere and kept running at defenders, taking on 5,6 and 7 players. not just because he could, but also because sometimes it was necessary. These days, he takes on 1, 2 maybe three but then releases the ball. Lofting or playing it through or exchanging passes with people (finally) on his wavelength.

    A mature messi who has taken on a more playmaking role has benefited the efficiency and even distribution of MSN’s

    However right now, what I am thinking of is, who the club is going to have to sell to keep msn, together and happy. All this spectacle comes at a cost and i suspect that we may need to sell. Why the hell is it so difficult for the world ‘s most winningest, glamorous and popular club to get a damn sponsor to rival the likes of chevrolet at utd? psshh..

  17. February 17, 2016

    However well CR7 tries not to, his arrogance and attitude comes out, it seems. It was really terrible of him to say that he dont wish to swap shirts with any Roma player. There is a WC winning legend in that team, CR7…

  18. TITO
    February 17, 2016

    The next time we are awarded a penalty we should simply ask th

  19. TITO
    February 17, 2016

    The ref to take that call off.

    • Jim
      February 17, 2016

      I have to say there is no reason, if he’s on the pitch, that Masche shouldn’t take the next one. Who’s in a position to argue ? I would repeat though that all you can do is hit the target, preferably near a post, at a reasonable pace. The rest is down to the keeper.

  20. Jim
    February 17, 2016

    Is it just me or is Roma’s passing awful ?

  21. Davour
    February 17, 2016

    Another fine display by the team – Messi dominating without effort, scolding himself for missing sublime passes by an inch, as do the others in the trio: high expectations!

    But most impressively to me was Piqué – what a fantastic player he is, so intelligent and controlled. Please keep that up, it’s a key to see that kind of defending.

    Not sure about Arda yet, some good indications but he is still getting the hang of it, looks so relaxed I suspect he is nervous. Vidal did not have a great game; in defence I think he let’s opponents past a bit too easily, and was not spot on in attack. But it is a difficult level to reach – hope he will find his way.

    And too bad Roma couldn’t touch RM. I find myself watching RM’s games more often these days. It’s like I enjoy rooting for the underdog for once…

  22. February 18, 2016

    Messi is back very near to his very best. If he is anywhere around this form or even better, and at least one of N or S too dont lose their form by end of March or April, we are going to do reach atrocious levels this season, I believe. Watching him play yday, I felt he could keep playing even when he is 35 or 38, as long as he is not a forward or a.mid. To keep this consistency for 10 years, this is unprecedented in football, as far as I know.

    Busquets has evolved into a new player Xavi+Busquets.
    Vidal is making good passes in our half, even under pressure. But when he is in the other half, this ability of his looks poor. He would improve hopefully.
    Salutes Pique..
    Excellent holding up by Suarez for the second goal.
    Messi should get back as the penalty man. He never screwed up penalties in high pressure situations, except for the Chelsea semi kick.

  23. raj
    February 18, 2016

    I personally believe that Messi is a genius or someone really wise is behind his decisions such as giving away the penalties, because this is not something to be taken lightly.

    He is proving a fool of a lot of people (almost everyone) who willingly participated all these years in popularity contest using goals as measurement of skills.

    Now that the world already knows he is the undisputed the best and that he doesn’t give two f’s about who scores the goals, everyone’s instinctive thinking is challenged.

    For example, last year in Ballon Dor, every article or introduction to Messi or Ronaldo had to start with ‘Messi, with his 30/40 goals and 20/30 assists’ (which was still a lot lesser than Cr7, but no one mentioned that). Now they have to introduce him as ‘Messi, who scored 15 goals and gave 12 assists’ (which statistically stands 5th or 6th in Europe) is this years best player!’ That is when people will realize that they had their heads in their asses all along.

    And hopefully, in a few years, a mid fielder like Iniesta (or Messi himself) without a single goal to his name will finally win the best player award and true prosperity of football will follow!

    I have a dream, lol.

  24. Tata2
    February 18, 2016

    Athletico still get to play EE and IMO any result from that match will be in our favour. A draw will mean we go 8 pts above Atletico and 9 above EE, an EE win will mean we go 9 above athletico increasing the gap between us and 2nd place to 7pts and I feel these two results should favour us more

    • raj
      February 18, 2016

      A draw is the best here, we get 4 points over the two. I would even take an Athletico win, which means that Real are utterly out of the contest. This is important because Real are showing signs of going on a good run here, which may threaten us in the end.

      Athletico on the other hand have a few points to drop all by themselves!

      Hell, looks like there is just no bad result for us.

      We are the la liga champs whichever way you cut it, as long as as we don’t screw up in an epic fashion. And we have a couple of guys, one in dugout and one on the right wing (on paper), making sure that we don’t.

    • Davour
      February 18, 2016

      What will be will be, but I would choose a AM win. RM have, I think, a slightly easier schedule and is less likely to drop points. They are not playing very well, but seem to be improving, with CR and James finding new inspiration under Zidane, and Modric pulling strings. We still have the clasico and even if we are favourites, I’d prefer some margin…

      Still, it has become absurd. It feels like La Liga is a bonus, a padding if we do not win CL. At least if EE wins it. In times of trebles, less than two titles seem just ok, I guess… weird.

    • G6O
      February 18, 2016

      I think unless we see a screw-up of truly epic proportions the title is in the bag, and we should also win the cup too.

      So that would be a treble followed by a double. Unprecedented. Thus, realistically, whatever happens in the CL, is a bonus, the season is a success.

      Still, it’s a golden opportunity to officially impose a truly crushing dominance over the game by winning a second treble in a row. That will set a benchmark that won’t be repeated again for a long time.

  25. Son
    February 19, 2016

    Thanks for the beautiful article.
    Every time I think about these three playing for my beloved club, I cannot believe how lucky I am.

    I know I will dwell in nostalgia when they play no more. I’m learning now how to embrace whilst it’s happening.

    Andrew beautifully jotted down about Luis Suarez in total barca. Good read.
    http://www.totalbarca.com/2016/opinion/luis-suarez-better-striker/

    • Jim
      February 19, 2016

      Great find, Kxevin. He’s always interesting when he speaks.

  26. Ryan
    February 19, 2016

    Ha, I came here to post the same article. Masch really does seem to understand what it takes to succeed at Barca – both the humility needed to recognize that Busi was a better fit than him in midfield, and the adaptability to learn how to play at center back. It’ll be very interesting to see how he does as a manager once he does eventually retire. (hopefully not anytime soon, of course!)

    I like that he still sees himself as a midfielder, and that he plans to go back to that position if he plays for another club. And that he repeated a thought often expressed here: that playing as a defender for Barcelona is something completely different from playing at any other club. I wonder if he reads BFB? 🙂

  27. Jim
    February 19, 2016

    From Barcastuff

    Despite offers from USA and Asia to play friendlies, Barcelona won’t do a pre-season tour this summer. [sport]

    Great decision. Couldn’t have been an easy one given current financial situation.

  28. lala10
    February 20, 2016

    Enter Your Comment… the team has been exceedingly poor. The Alba dip in form continues. One wonders when we will see the back of it. Hope they can step it up when it matters.

  29. TITO
    February 20, 2016

    We are far from great today but good enough. There will not be easy games until.the end of th

  30. TITO
    February 20, 2016

    The season, especially the away games.

    Damn keyboard.

  31. lala10
    February 20, 2016

    Enter Your Comment… these shitty perfomances are only alleviated by the results. we showed a poor face. Can only pray for Tuesday. Something is wrong with these guys.

    • Davour
      February 20, 2016

      Maybe, but had Suarez finished normally, it would look differently. Still, the title of this post is ironic just today. I only had time to see second half, but man did they NOT work well together. Suarez missing sitters, Messi and Ney dribbling into clusters or holding on to the ball too long (despite a few gems)… tired minds? Classic response, making bad decisions. I really hope Messi is tired, because I haven’t seen him move this little since the bad old days of taxi cab waiting. Almost provokingly immobile at times.

      But – again – with normal finishing, this is a breeze. And Mathieu had a chance to show solid work in defence, saving faces of both Alba and Suarez… Reminded me overall of early season’s inaccuracy – except this is still a victory. Let’s accept that, say thanks and move on to Arsenal!

    • georgjorge
      February 20, 2016

      “Something is wrong with these guys”

      Yes, and it is the fact that they cannot play every game – or even the huge majority of their games – with 100% focus and concentration. They have a very tough week coming against Arsenal and Sevilla, so they choose to play their best then and not give everything against a relegation candidate, score four goals but then lose in an important Champions League tie. Lucho’s message was probably “don’t sweat it guys” (ok just kidding on that one).

      Which other shitty performances do you recall the past month (except Valencia where hardly any of the A-teamers played)?

  32. Tata2
    February 20, 2016

    Today’s game was really depressing but I hope a different barca shows up on Tuesday. We can’t continue giving chances like these to opponents, a good arsenal will punish us dearly

    • Davour
      February 20, 2016

      Yup. But I’m pretty sure they will show up for CL. MSN will need to press much more efficiently (instead of not at all…), and I’m sure they will. Messi should have tons of energy and a point to prove!

  33. Tata2
    February 20, 2016

    I hate these knock out ties they make me excessively nervous…

  34. Dar_vincy
    February 20, 2016

    Setien (coach Las Palmas): “Due to Liga lead, Barça relax against weaker teams. But when needed, they start playing their normal game.”

    Setien couldn’t have captured our disposition towards our away games recently.

  35. February 20, 2016

    Barça B won again. Sixth in a row, and another clean sheet.

  36. Cyclops
    February 20, 2016

    Ummm…never seen Cesc as a part of a Double DM? That was the way they Prosecuted the Majority of their Title winning campaing under Jose Mourinho last season, if i’m not mistaken

    “PSG a caricature of barca”? i couldnt agree more!
    So much for all the effort(to play a passing game), they could only produce Flat sequences of play often than not..I think thats pretty much the lot of this Modern teams who try to take a Page(illegally)from barca’s book; they often come up way short….Manchester United are of the typical example here; their possesion based Game under Van Gaal is painful to watch, to put it lightly
    Bayern seems to stand out a lil bit from the rest..then again they can look Flat too most times

    In any case, it occured to me that i’d love to see a Bayern and PSG Tie, its quite intriguing..still Juventus isnt a bad Tie

    Another unexplainable performance today, but sunny side up; Arsenal Dropped Points today, for what its worth, i could console myself with that..or not

    For now, i reserve my comments…..

    No preseason for this year apparently, Smart i’d say…And BTW, its not just for Financial reasons, i think the minutes accumulated by the players are just too huge and they could do with a bit more rest…Shoulda been the way to go this season, for all the preseason was worth, we got a thorough hiding in the supa cup..
    Judging by the minutes accumulated by the players last season canceling preseason games would have been genius..atleast the team wouldn’t have been hounded out of the Spanish Super cup…

    • barca96
      February 21, 2016

      Arsenal drew but didn’t drop any points. It was a FA Cup game. They’ll have to play the return leg as a result of the draw.

  37. Son
    February 21, 2016

    I don’t know how many of you notice but for me Turan was terrible.
    Never impressed with Rakitić but yesterday I was screaming on Lucho to replace Turan with Rakitić.

    I’m so pleased with Lucho that he showed Turan that nobody is a luxury here, every single player should earn their place.
    Still hoping to see the ATM Turan that we all admired.

  38. Jim
    February 21, 2016

    No, since his first game when I thought he showed some lovely touches he has gone into his shell a little. Good result, performance less so but if we want to play MSN every game ( I know WE don’t but what’s the alternative ? ) then I’m quite happy with walking Messi. Thought Mathieu was immense again yesterday. Not sure what he has to do to get a regular start there. The other three at the back less so, although Alba nowhere near as bad as I’ve seen suggested elsewhere. In fact, if you have the game on tape have a close look at their chances in the first 25 minutes. He wasn’t the problem.

  39. Tata2
    February 21, 2016

    So we had a crappy win against malaga and EE just had a crappy draw with malaga. So anyone wants to switch places with EE? And maybe CR7 has something to learn from Messi from the spot, next time pass the pk to a team mate

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