It’s not long ago that Real Madrid were a rock. It seems like a century ago but we were talking about them in that way just a few weeks ago. They have the same players because Eden Hazard was a flash in the pan.
However, they give the impression of having abandoned some of their posts that had made them a difficult team to play against. Now they’re easy pickings for anyone.
There was evidence of this collapse in the hiding against Real Sociedad and they confirmed if against Celta Vigo and Levante, who cut through them like a knife through butter and took away their leadership.
Now, they’re without a goalscorer, but they also lacked one during the spell where they’d let in little or nothing and pick up three points like going out to buy bread.
Change of habits
They’ve wasted the solidity of that spell, some of the obligations in defence have been neglected and various players have lost their touch.
Starting with Karim Benzema, who has never been a poacher but pretending to be in the absence of Gareth Bale, and ending with Thibaut Courtois and his explicable lack of a save at Levante.
That it’s happened in a crucial part of the season and that it coincides with an institutionally calamitous but league-leading Barcelona contributes to the nervous attack. Even Manchester City, who approved on the day of the draw, now seem like Pele’s Santos.
As long as Real Madrid return to good habits, their chances will increase in a decisive week. If the goals don’t come, rearming the midfield and returning the collectiveness will be the best solution.
Anything that avoids throwing meaningless crosses into the box in search of a poacher that doesn’t exist and spending energy on other tasks that include defensive attention and hard work in midfield will be more productive.
It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to forget about the whole ‘the referee has something against us’. Those claims from the likes of Sergio Ramos are pathetic.
I can’t remember a footballer so instrumental in the results of their team like Lionel Messi at Barcelona. The amount of games that the Argentine has saved them in with a direct contribution is endless. Maybe only Diego Maradona at Napoli is comparable.
But Messi carries the social piece and the day to day of the club on his shoulders. Barcelona are as dependent on his goals as they are on his thumb.
A thumbs up or down doesn’t destroy or give life to a president. It means that he’s happy or not and, therefore, whether he leaves or not.
A player that scores four goals in the eye of a storm, as well as granting momentary reprieve to Josep Maria Bartomeu, also sends a reassuring message. Messi’s four goals, as well as scoring them for the benefit of the team, give life to the club.
This includes the employee who will let the players and Quique Setien’s cows into the car park this morning. There’s not darker shadow for a Barcelona fan than a sad gesture from Messi.
Aside from this, Martin Braithwaite paid him the best tribute: you don’t wash Messi’s sweat – you take it home with you. While Leo continues like this, Barcelona have a pulse. They’ve gone top in a week of calamity.