On the 21st of October, Barcelona played Sevilla in a well fought game, with the Blaugrana emerging as victors to a deceiving scoreline of 4-2. There were a plethora of problems which needed to be addressed. Defensive lapses, lack of concentration and organisation substituted by poor performances were all causes of apprehension but none of them worried the club more than the injury of club legend Lionel Messi, who sustained a fracture on his right arm.
Before the 21st of October, the day Messi sustained the injury, the club was experiencing a bad spell, without winning a game in the league since the 24th of September. The club’s anchor, Samuel Umtiti as well as veteran Thomas Vermaelen also sustained injuries leaving the club with only two proper centre-backs: Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique. In the midst of this defensive crisis, striker Luis Suarez also seemed out of touch and lacked the cutting edge to score goals. The club was on the verge of a downfall but, the Azulgrana had other plans.
On the 25th of October, Barcelona played Inter Milan starting with a solid lineup with the inclusion of former Inter loanee- Rafinha. The gamble turned out to be effective, with Rafinha scoring a wonderful goal assisted by a magisterial Luis Suarez cross. Jordi Alba went on to score in the dying embers of the game as Barca won a well-balanced game 2-0. Following the game on Wednesday night, the Blaugrana went on to obliterate a shaky Real Madrid side by scoring five goals, thanks to a Luis Suarez hat-trick, ultimately leading up to Julen Lopetegui’s sack.
Two key players who played an integral role in determining the clubs fate for two weeks without Messi were the youngsters Arthur Melo and Clement Lenget. Both seemed to be seasoned Barcelona players and were solid throughout the two-week tenure. Flashes of brilliance from the young Brazilian and integral tackles from the Frenchman ensured that the future of the club is in good hands.
With Messi on the verge of recovery and with the club discovering a new-found renaissance, it is fair to say that Messi’s injury was a blessing in disguise. The club’s reliance on Lionel Messi was seeming to be an inevitable factor but, the consequential results after sustaining the injury proved that even in his absence, the players could get the job done.