Football

Barcelona are still dependant on Lionel Messi

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Lionel Messi remains Barcelona's talisman despite the recent additions of Neymar and Luis Suarez.

When goals and big plays are required, it's the Argentine that everyone looks towards to provide it. Yes, 'Messi-dependance' is still alive and kicking. Indeed, we only have to look at his stats over the month of March to understand just how important Messi remains to the success of Barcelona this season.

The Catalans played five matches in March. As a start point to this discussion, Messi was man-of-the-match in all five. Deserved it too. He was decisive in every game. Four assists and five goals contributed to the victories over Villarreal, Manchester City and Real Madrid - three huge fixtures - as well as the more routine games over Eibar and Rayo Vallecano.

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Record breaker

His hat-trick against Rayo saw him claim a new record of most-ever hat-tricks in La Liga, and therein lies much of the problem. It almost seems that every time Messi sets foot on a football pitch, he breaks one record or another. Routine and in a days work for the diminutive number ten, but being that important doesn't lend itself to regular breaks in the side and a chance to recharge the batteries.

Not only has Messi scored the most goals in the team this season, and assisted the most, he has also played the most. An injury sustained whilst on duty with the Argentina national side is a warning to everyone that, perhaps, Messi is being overused just a little.

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Rest required

Like everyone else, he needs rest. Like everyone else he is only human. Even if his prowess often makes him seem other-worldly. Unfortunately Barcelona have missed the boat as far as that's concerned.

As we move into April, we are looking at the biggest fixtures of the season on the horizon. In the space of 10 days this month, Barca will play Paris Saint-Germain home and away, Sevilla away and Valencia at home. 

Those four games will tell us much about Barca's credentials in their quest for domestic and European success. And Messi will play in them all, injury permitting.

Counter-productive

Luis Enrique has based his template around Messi. Nothing wrong with that but it could end up being counter-productive. What happens when Messi is actually missing for a period of time? Can Neymar and Suarez step up and prove they have what it takes?

The Brazilian only has three goals in his last 10 games stretching back to the beginning of February per WhoScored by way of example. And that's with Messi in the side and able to assist.

It's a dangerous precedent that Enrique is setting and it may yet come back to hurt Barca in the last knockings of 2014/15. 

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Topics:
Football
La Liga
Lionel Messi
Barcelona

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