“We may not have been at our best but the players always gave everything”. Here is a look at four players in particular that absolutely must step up for Barcelona with Messi sidelined. He was played through on goal by Suarez but he couldn’t find a way past the goalkeeper. Yet those models also come with caveats – namely, that it’s hard to make accurate predictions about only eight games spread over two competitions. These two sides have been paired together five out of the last seven seasons. They had their chances.
Then there’s the schedule over the next two months.
It was a crucial win for the hosts, who were once again far from from their best without injured talisman Lionel Messi, and face more problems after midfielder Andres Iniesta limped off on the hour-mark with what the club later confirmed is a hamstring injury.
Barca on the other hand couldn’t Bayer goal, and their first-half malaise continues to be cause for concern – having scored just one goal before half-time in six league games.
Guilio Donati: Excellent for his 75-minute spell as he coped brilliantly with the inter-changing Suarez and Neymar.
Barcelona are reeling from the blow of losing Messi for up to eight weeks with knee ligament damage as they prepare to welcome Leverkusen to the Camp Nou. Dani Alves seemed to have lost a yard within months after winning the treble as Luis Enrique has mostly opted for Barca youngster Sergi Roberto in his place.
Shouldn’t This Team Have Enough Depth?
Barcelona were without Lionel Messi through injury and Luis Enrique was happy the way the team responded.
Turan and Aleix Vidal were both signed during the summer transfer window, but can’t be registered to play until January. Instead of providing depth through lean times, Adama Traore and Gerard Deulofeu are now playing for Aston Villa and Everton, respectively.
Games were played in Bogota, Colombia, Cancun, Mexico, and Miami in 2012 and Medellin, Colombia, Lima, Peru, and Chicago in 2013.
Luis Enrique’s side looked down and out after another Marc-Andre ter Stegen error had cost them in the first half.
But substitute Sergi Roberto pounced in the closing 10 minutes to level the scores and Suarez’s thumping finish snatched an unlikely victory for the holders, who move above Leverkusen at the top of the group.
“Messi is irreplaceable”, Enrique said. Last season, before Neymar got healthy and Suárez finished serving his biting ban, Messi began the season as the primary goal-scoring focal point he’d been since Pep Guardiola’s final years with the club.
Cristiano Ronaldo needs just three goals to overtake Raul as Real Madrid’s all-time leading goalscorer – and you wouldn’t put it past him to break the record on Wednesday night. The fact is clear that the Messi is wanted on the field. And there is no confidence at all that the team will cope well in Messi’s absence. After the ball left his foot, he went down and was attended to by team physios.
It’s certainly not ideal to be facing a must-win game in the second fixture of the group stages but that’s the situation facing Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City after all three English clubs suffered defeat in gameweek one.