Since the start of the season, Europe has discovered that even Lionel Messi may be in bad shape. This permanent state of affairs, of which the Argentine’s level was constant in excellence, has reached an expiration date. Even in this strange season under Tata Martino, the 10 was not as extinct as it is today. This apathy is no doubt explained by the unpleasant ending to the summer experienced by the six-time Ballon d’Or, who struggled with leaders who kept him at the club against his will. However, the reasons for the difficulties are not only mental, they are also tactical.
“The system is new, the teammates are new, and Messi has to learn from this situation. He was close to Suárez, Rakitic and Alba. Only one of these three remains. Messi must find himself and find new complicity, new mechanisms“explains Àlex Delmàs, a former player who became a consultant for various Catalan media. For the first time in years, FC Barcelona is less Messi’s Barça than its coach.
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Messi and Koeman must find each other
Arriving in the great team that played the slowest football on the continent, Ronald Koeman tried to revive his family’s game. If the increase in pace and vertical inclinations of this new Barça are a perfect match for Coutinho’s ball catches, Pjanic’s long remotes or Ansu Fati’s calls into space, then that is not at all suitable for a Lionel Messi who no longer has the legs of yesteryear. Problem, if the team adopts a pace more capable of satisfying its captain, it starts to look dangerous like the Barça of the Valverde years, the wins less so. The opponent has time to close the spaces and Messi is forced to be the alpha and omega of the Catalan attacks. At this point in his career, it does him a disservice.
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“I think we see a Messi less and less able to suck so many balls and take charge of as many facets of the game as he was a few years ago. And on a collective level, Barça is demanding that Messi be the same player he was in 2017, which is impossible. Because if Messi spends himself 40 meters from the targets on construction work, he cannot have the same energy to complete the actions“, considers Albert Blaya, journalist before Editorial Puskas. It has now been four years since a coach sitting on the bench at Camp Nou faced the same dilemma: how high should Messi stand outside the field?
Griezmann can help Messi
From a theoretical point of view there is a consensus. Messi must be found on the edge of the opponent’s area. With the goal in sight, he is decisive like no other. However, the consensus tends to shatter for his team’s inability to get the ball to him in advanced areas. Valverde and Setien had the bitter experience of it. They had initially tried to place their best player as high on the field as possible before finally witnessing Messi’s systemic outburst, who was forced to fix the team’s own problems in creating.
Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann
Credit: Getty Images
So how do you solve these problems? This is where Antoine Griezmann comes into play. Last Sunday against Osasuna, Griezman possibly played his best match in the jersey blaugrana. Located in the heart of the game, behind Martin Braithwaite, the Frenchman was the keeper of the offensives culé. When it came to pushing the team forward, all the good balls went through his feet. As a result, a fluency found at the time of the attack and a Messi can finally receive the ball in good conditions.
Once in the final third, Griezmann returned the No. 10 suit to the Argentinian and put on the offensive clothing, multiplying the number of calls. “If you want to integrate Messi and Griezmann into an elf, make sure Griezmann can participate in the build phase. He cannot be isolated. And once the team is installed in the opponent’s camp, Griezmann should take a more advanced position and not Messi, as Griezmann is a player with very good price cuts. Barca must be aware that they must integrate Griezmman in both phasesAlbert Blaya warns. A Griezmann integrated into the game, allowing Messi to relinquish certain duties, extending the Argentinian’s life expectancy, Koeman is said to have discovered. the formula? Let’s not go so fast …
We have forgotten Braithwaite
To understand the tenor of AG7’s crackdown on Osasuna, you need to understand how important Martin Braithwaite was that day. “The figure of Braithwaite is very important. Not about quality, but about profile. It is this new thing that restores: it is always between the two exchanges and monopolizes their attention. That makes Messi and Griezmann better. Griezmann has two strengths: the finishing and the detection of spaces. And in order to detect free spaces, someone has to be in front of them to provoke these spaces”comments Àlex Delmàs.
Depending on Braithwaite’s tenure … this initially attractive animation loses its charm here. On the one hand, the former TFC does not have the level to be the holder of prestigious rivals. On the other hand, giving the Dane the point and getting Messi back to the right is a real problem is a real problem when it comes to printing.
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“Messi unbalances the team. It’s difficult to structure a pressing with Messi on the right. He is not much of a fan of pressing and moreover he completes all his actions in the center. So if the opponent gets the ball, he has a completely free side that allows him to come out ” develops Àlex Delmàs. The match recently [contre Osasuna ndlr.] opens a new door for the cohabitation between Messi and Griezmann. I don’t see things as negative as a week ago, but I think we would be wrong to say ‘look we found the formulaThis setup can be very useful against rivals inferior to Barça. But once the big games arrive, Messi will find the center and Griezmann will pay the price.
The ideal solution does not exist
The most likely scenario is that Koeman cannot find the Philosopher’s Stone because it simply does not exist. “Every time Koeman drafts an elf, he asks different things from his players based on their profile. We never see a comparable Barça, with the exception of Frenkie de Jong, who has a role that does not change. Everyone else adjusts to where they playAlbert Blaya concludes. Every change in the eleven and every replacement of players has intrinsic inconvenience.
On the right, Messi is happy, but Dembele, who is at work, has no place. When Dembélé plays, it’s Sergiño Dest’s turn to eat his black bread, as Koeman prefers to put Roberto on a par with the Frenchman. When Roberto aligns, it’s all Barça’s recovery that’s struggling, forcing Messi to fall. Bis repetita. Ronald Koeman faces an endless series of puzzles. The Dutch technician is groping forward, but at least he is making progress.
Credit: Getty Images
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