The alarm bells were loudly blaring when PSG captured Neymar from Barcelona. It was the peak of a football coup. Neymar understandingly was the prince of Camp Nou when Messi was the king. Neymar was to preserve the South American monarchy in Camp Nou as the Argentine wizard would hand over the throne to the Brazilian show-boy. That was the plan of the board and that was the dream of the fans. But change is the only thing that is permanent and by the end of the summer window, Neymar was in PSG donning the PSG jersey amidst claims he went for a new “challenge”.
The tears at Barca started flowing and were expected to flow for a longer time. Barca before Neymar’s historic exit were already a weakened team with an aging midfield. Reinforcements were deeply needed not sales and least the the sale of someone with an impeccable technical caliber like Neymar. The planned addition of Coutinho botched on the last day as a proudly obstinate Liverpool held on stingingly to Coutinho. The paltry addition of Paulinho was not a sufficient coolant to calm the fraying nerves at the Camp Nou.
The early losses to Madrid where Barca were degraded by their ancestral rivals sparked the claims that Barca was in crisis. Pique substantiated the claims of a slumping team when he said for the first time he was feeling inferior to Madrid. All mighty hopes of glory this season were approximated and abbreviated and ultimately degraded. Aiming for the champions league for Barca seemed some gregarious ambition that lacked realistic substance. Barca fans had to cut their coat to their cloth and aim for lower trophies like the Copa De Rey and others.
However, since the start of the season, the environment of gloom looked like it is disappearing. By the end of the match against Espanyol where Barca readily dispelled their Catalan neighbors, it seemed a beam of hope was also creeping back to the team. The leader of this rejuvenation is no other than Messi. He seems not to have lost his mesmerizing touch and is once again taken the driven seat at Barca knowing he no longer has a deputy in Neymar. His heroics and histrionic were a beautiful sight to behold pouring some litters of oil on the troubled water at Barca.
The match against Juventus was revolutionary as it largely suggested that anyone thinking Barca was a decline needed to take a sick leave from work and sit up all day at home watching the match again. Juventus were bamboozled by the illustrious ingenuity of Messi.
Dancing and whirling enigmatically past the hapless Juventus defenders, it was a glowing reminder of the best days of Messi. His third goals was typically Messi in flames. Bursting past a couple of defenders and wrong footing Buffon with a well curved shot to the bottom corner of the post.
Buffon who previously had a proud record of having not being scored by Messi had a miserable night. Although he could have expected Messi to break the record that night, he couldn’t have been expecting Messi to break it that heartlessly.
This Barca side without Neymar is still glowing with promise and capacity. Moreover, it looks to get better when the super-talented Dembele blends in and start taking games by the scruff. In face of this Barca future that looks bright and optimistic, do you still think Barca is in crisis?
Barcelona 13/2 with BetWay to win the Champions League this season