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Barcelona can cope without Messi

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How would Arsenal cope without Mesut Ozil? How would Manchester United cope without Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney? Liverpool without Luis Suarez? Manchester City without Sergio Aguero? Let's leave Chelsea, as many would argue their best player has been sat on the bench all season. But for any team in any league in the world, losing your best player to injury is a worst-nightmare situation - except for Barcelona. 

Fans of the Catalan giants may have been fearing the worst when they saw Lionel Messi limping off with a hamstring injury just 18 minutes into their league game with Real Betis this weekend. It has since emerged the Argentinian is set to miss the next two months of Barca's campaign while he attempts to get fully fit. 

But while his knack for scoring from pretty much anywhere in any situation is an attribute the Spanish champions will undoubtedly miss, his absence from Barcelona's next four La Liga games is something supporters of La Masia need not fear. 

While the Argentinian was on the pitch in the opening stages at the Nou Camp on Sunday, his side were playing second fiddle to Betis and had goalkeeper Victor Valdes - who has been in exceptional form in his final year - to thank for keeping the scores level. 

However, after Messi departed with a hamstring tear, Barca began to exploit Betis' back line and scored two quick-fire goals from Neymar and Pedro to take a stranglehold on the match. 

Cesc Fabregas, promoted to an attacking role with Messi absent, went on to score a brace to complete a comfortable 4-1 victory. 

That has quite often been the case this year in La Liga, and despite their star-man's injury troubles they have made a record-breaking start to the 2013/14 season. They have 37 points, a league high after 13 games - winning 12 and drawing only one of their opening fixtures, opening up a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

They have also scored more goals than any other La Liga outfit at this stage, scoring 38 and conceding only eight for a plus-30 goal difference. 

Barcelona fans got a taste of things to come in the next two months - inadvertently - during El Classico, too. The 26-year-old all-time leading Barcelona goal scorer suffered one of his worst performances that night, albeit out of position, and yet they still overcame their nearest rivals thanks to Neymar's opener and Alexis Sanchez's deft chip. 

The array of talent at Gerard Martino's disposal has most managers turning green with envy, and Messi's injury will further enforce that because I simply cannot see them struggling. 

Andres Iniesta has had an indifferent start in centre midfield this year, providing just the one assist without finding the net. His best attribute has never been his goal scoring, though. The same can be said for Xavi - so how are Barca doing so well?

Since Messi came onto the scene under Frank Rijkaard's reign, they have barely had to cope without him being in the starting XI. That was until the back end of last season where he started to suffer niggling injuries that left him a virtual bystander in their embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of Europe's elite tournament. 

They went on to lose the return leg 3-0, although Messi was not risked from the start with the tie seemingly beyond Barca. This humiliating defeat served as a lesson to them, a lesson they appear to have learnt from. 

Inevitably there were people questioning the side once hailed as the greatest ever assembled, having slumped to 7-0 aggregate loss with star-player Lionel (almost) nowhere to be seen. Were they a one man team all along? 

No, and they never have been. The marquee signing of Neymar this summer has only added to the waves of creativity in their side, and the boy can finish, too. He's so far notched four goals since his arrival, assisting seven in the process. Fabregas also has seven assists. Cristian Tello has a couple, as does Pedro, as does Alexis Sanchez. Those two have also bagged 13 goals between them this season. 

When you have this much creativity on the pitch, even without your best player there to be on the end of them, your team is going to score goals. Mesut Ozil's Real Madrid departure is a case in point, with many suggesting Cristiano Ronaldo and team mates would struggle to score as much as they do without the 'assist king' pulling strings in the creative number ten role. Ronaldo's goal tally this year puts paid to that suggestion. It also shows that Madrid may have their star player in unbelievable form- scoring 27 in 19 - and yet they're only third in La Liga. 

Point being, a team like Barcelona don't need their star man to beat other teams, because they're full of them. If Iniesta headed to Grenada, he'd be their best player. If Xavi went to Athletic Bilbao, he'd be their best. Sanchez to Villarreal - there best. Pedro to Getafe. You get the picture. The reason I mention these teams is because these are the opponents they will face without Messi in the coming months. 

A team as good as Barcelona, a team touted as the best to ever play the game, has too much class to struggle without one player - no matter who that player is. They're a team, not an individual, not Messi FC. 

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Topics:
Football
Lionel Messi
Barcelona
La Liga

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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