Barcelona engine not firing up without Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta


No car can run without an engine. No matter how beautiful and sophisticated a car, without the engine it's just a scrap of metal. Similarly, in a football team, the engine is the midfield. Here the ball moves from defence to offense or vice versa depending on the situation. It has been seen that to build a successful team, firstly a good midfield is to be ensured.

The Barcelona team to win the sextuple under Pep Guardiola boasted of a midfield containing the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Yaya Toure, Keita and the young Busquets. It was the envy of many. This was further supplemented in the following years by the arrival of Mascherano, Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas following the departures of Toure and Keita.

The primary objective of a typical midfielder is to bring out ball from the back, create chances, openings for the forwards and on getting the chance to have a go at the goal. Possessing someone like the legendary Xavi in one's team solved many of the problems. His vision and ball distribution are still unparalleled. Add to that the magic of Andres Iniesta. He has the ability to pierce through the toughest defences. Yaya Toure was raw power, a human tank. Mascherano is a brilliant tackler. Busquets breaks up opposition attacks at will. These are the players who defined an era of brilliant beautiful football.


The Barcelona team of 2014-15 season had a midfield consisting of Rakitic, Iniesta and Busquets. Xavi and Rafinha were brought in as subs and used to good effect by the boss. Rakitic, who has recently been awarded the Croatian player of the year, is a typical box-to-box midfielder. He was the workhorse of the team. His duties were to receive the ball and pass it on to any of the front three to start the counter attack. And he excelled in that role with his accurate passing.

With a number of injuries piling up this season, particularly in midfield, the team has been put on the back foot. With Messi being injured, there doesn't exist the option anymore in which Messi drops to the midfield and unlocks defences with his playmaking and vision. Ask Argentina, who suffered without their talisman and were handed a defeat at home in their recent World Cup qualifiers in La Pulga's absence.

The Barca of Guardiola and Tito Vilanova were masters of keeping possession of the ball. And when you have the ball, the chances of the opposition attacking your goal goes down. But as the emphasis on counters increased last season under Luis Enrique, the defensive duties increased for the midfielders and the defenders. With the current midfield injury crisis that Barcelona are currently experiencing, the pressure on the back has drastically increased. And so has the errors piled up resulting in goals.

Players like Mathieu particularly seem to lose possession too often. It can be attributed to lack of confidence and I am sure just a bit of chit chat with the management staff can sort it out. Once the team starts not to lose possession often, the chances of attacks will get reduced. And with it, the errors.

The main focus ought to be the midfield. Players like Neymar and Luis Suarez are capable of scoring goals once the ball is fed to any of them. There is nothing much to worry about the forwards.

Even with Messi and Iniesta both injured there is enough firepower in the team to pull it through. That however is solely dependent on the workability of the midfield. Once it is sorted, most of the problems will be corrected.

Tiki Taka saved Barcelona once -- It can save us once again!

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