Messi Slump Causes Camp Nou Concerns

When is a crisis not a crisis? When it's in La Liga. There is much concern in Spain over the form of Leo Messi, even though there is actually nothing to be concerned about...

Last Updated: 04/11/13 at 17:18 Post Comment

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When is a team in crisis when it isn't actually in crisis? When the team is playing in La Liga.

Despite having dropped just two points in 12 rounds of La Liga since the start of the season, there is a much talk of what's wrong with current league leaders Barcelona, and more specifically, Leo Messi.

Naturally, much of this chit-chat is oozing out of the Spanish capital, a city that is also dealing with the very leaky Real Madrid, but there are even worries being discussed in hushed tones in the home of the Catalan club. After all, whenever a article is published in the Barça-leaning papers soothing that there is nothing at all to be concerned about, then there is probably something to lose sleep over.

The fretting focuses on the fact that Barcelona currently look half-asleep during games and a little sluggish. The Catalan club were not wholly convincing over 90 minutes against Real Madrid last weekend and even less so in a bit of a grind of a victory over Espanyol at the Camp Nou on Friday night. Despite the under par performance, the win still sees Espanyol with just the single success in this fixture in the league since 1982.

However on this occasion, it is hard to see why some are getting into such a tizz. Although Barcelona are not looking as scintillating as the sides of days of yore, with the only proper demolition of a rival taking place in the first round of La Liga against Levante, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as odd as it may sound.

The changes that Tata Martino has made to the team have certainly seen a little bit of the pizzazz taken out of previous incarnations, but that has been a necessary fix to the long term future form of the club. Giving Xavi Hernández, Cesc Fabregas, Andrés Iniesta and the forward players regular rests of just 60 minutes at a time, should help keep the team fresh until the end of the season, with the old adage of nothing been won in November - aside from last year's La Liga title - being all too true. This has certainly come at the expense of consistency and rhythm out on the pitch, but if it brings home the Champions League title then it would have been well worth it.

Neymar is adapting very well at the Camp Nou club and Alexis Sánchez is in fine form, with their pair combining for Barcelona's winner on Friday. The timing of this pair performing well is fortuitous for the club and also another reason to be cheerful for Messi. Last year, Barça's biggest weakness of all, was being unable to deliver results with the Argentinean absent or out of a form. That hasn't been a problem this season with other footballers taking on the goalscoring burden.

Messi's teammates have certainly had to of late with the Argentinean suffering the equivalent of mere mortal strikers not scoring for an entire season. Messi has not found the back of the net in four league encounters, and has just the single strike in five - the effort in the Champions League against AC Milan.

Of course, speculation is now rife on what is eating at Leo Messi, as well as camera trained on the player for every second out on the pitch, with every huff, puff and grumpy look being interpreted in the tea leaves. Marca reeled off a list of possible ailments affecting Messi including the arrival of Neymar throwing him off whack, the recent injury rocking his confidence and also his issues with the law over his tax bill.

However, there is a hope for Messi to get back to scoring ways with the return Champions clash against the currently awful AC Milan, a team that slumped to a 2-0 home defeat to Fiorentina, are dealing with a very sulky Mari Balotelli and are stuck in mid-table in Serie A.

A couple of strikes in the Camp Nou for Leo Messi's malaise will be quickly be forgotten. But until that happens there will be an awful lot of focus on the form of this normally most prolific of forwards.

Round 12 Results

Real Sociedad 5-0 Osasuna

Barcelona 1-0 Espanyol

Almería 1-0 Valladolid

Rayo Vallecano 2-3 Real Madrid

Sevilla 0-1 Celta Vigo

Levante 0-1 Granada

Málaga 3-2 Betis

Atlético Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao

Getafe 0-1 Valencia

Elche vs. Villarreal (Monday)

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