Lionel Messi reaching new heights following Neymar departure

Lionel Messi continues to surprise us all with his magic. Just when we though La Pulga could not possibly get any better (with senseless haters from the Spanish media even suggesting his decline was imminent before La Liga started!), there he goes again: Scoring seven goals in his last four matches, hitting the woodwork a surprising five times and, more importantly, guiding Barca to an unbeaten record and to the very top of the table both in the domestic league and the Champions League final.

While Messi is deservedly grabbing the headlines of pretty much every non-heavily-biased sports newspaper or website on the planet, Cules should not forget the fact that his early-season explosion has been enabled by newly-appointed Ernesto Valverde. Sure, Messi would be able to excel under virtually any coach, but the way in which the former Athletic Bilbao manager has succeeded in empowering his teammates should certainly not be overlooked.

Under Valverde, Barcelona have become a much more cohesive unit as a result of an increased focus on purposeful passing, high pressing, increased defensive intensity and a more decisive effort to transition from attacking to defensive mechanisms as quickly as possible. Although many feared that Neymar's departure would doom Barca to a period of obscurity, the team has actually stepped up in his absence and actually feel like a more confident, hungry team without him.

As we explained in much more detail in Episode 33 of The Barcelona Podcast, Barca's obvious improvement should be celebrated and credit given when it's due to those who truly deserve it. Check it out now:


  1. Anonymous14.9.17

    Now no hidden ego clash, so Messi shine again....

  2. The better Messi plays and rescues this team the more we need to see that signature. It's the thought that is in the back of cule's minds as we watch him play and see the team win. I think that we should see a game without Messi playing the entire 90 minutes to really appreciate where the team is at and it would be a good proof of Valverde's work and understanding of the team, not just of the team with Messi. I know it may cause concern because Messi has been our savior in these dark times, stepping up for Barca and destroying rivals but I think the team needs that challenge, the coach needs it and the fans will be grateful as well as feel sure of future challenges if indeed we come out successful, not to mention the message it will send to the rest of the futbol world. With our without our king we are to be feared and powerful. A good example of this would be Madrid, called out to be the best team in the world right now but has played ok games ending in ties as well as delivering almost 0 goals without Cristiano. We have prooved that with Messi all is sweet and great but we need to prove what we are and where we are at without him. Further down line he will need rest. Maybe now is the right time for such experiment since our spirits and motivations are high or maybe the team still needs a little more work before facing that challenge. Opinions?


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