Brilliant Barcelona are more than just MSN

The current Barcelona side are a joy to watch. They are different from all-conquering Pep Guardiola era, with the Messi, Suarez and Neymar combination proving a football phenomenon. However, this Barca is about more than just MSN.


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Barcelona completely demolished Granada last weekend in La Liga. Granted that the Andalusian side is struggling near the relegation zone and few would have expected anything else, yet it is still a pleasure to watch the Catalan side control the game with such exciting, attacking football.

Lionel Messi led the way in what has been another sensational season for one the greatest players in the history of the game.

His combination play with Luis Suarez and Neymar are simply wonderful, with moves often leaving football fans open mouthed and asking, did that just happen?

Many may even suggest that Luis Enrique’s success as coach of the club, where he excelled as a player, is all down to MSN.

Such thinking is a gross injustice of the coach's work at the Camp Nou and the contribution of others like Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique.

For the naysayers, it’s important to recall the time between Guardiola’s departure and Luis Enrique’s arrival at Barcelona.

One of the reasons why Guardiola left the club was because he felt he was unable to rejuvenate a side that had achieved so much success with him at the helm.

He felt he couldn’t tell Messi to take a break, tell Pique to work harder or replace Dani Alves at right-back.

The late Tito Villnova was cruelly taken by cancer before he had the opportunity to continue what he and Guardiola had begun, while the job proved beyond the capability of Gerardo Martino.

Despite some suggestions, it is not easy to coach Barcelona. Yes, the club possess an immensely talented group of players educated at the world’s best football school but creating the environment for them to flourish, while keeping everyone happy, is no easy task.

Just look how difficult it has been to achieve that at Real Madrid, although it must be said the lack of patience from president Florentino Perez is also a factor.

When Luis Enrique arrived at Barcelona, it seemed his more stubborn style might cause friction, particularly with Messi, who wanted to play, no matter what.

The ex-Barca B coach and eventually got the best out of the Argentine wizard.

He also showed little room for sentiment by disregarding some vital players from the Guardiola era, like Pedro Rodriguez, who eventually moved to Chelsea, while also integrating Suarez, Rakitic and Jeremy Mathieu.

He has kept players susceptible to losing focus, like Pique, on the ball, while also extending the Barca career of Dani Alves.

But it hasn’t just been Enrique’s man management that has stood out. He has created a system of play that brings the best out of Messi, Neymar and Suarez.

When Barca signed Brazilian sensation Neymar, it was hard to see how he would work successfully with the five-time Ballon D'or winner, let alone with Suarez as well.

Yet Enrique’s system works brilliantly and still in keeping with the attractive football demanded by the Camp Nou faithful, as well as achieving the most important thing of all – titles!

That is top-level football coaching of the very highest order – something that very few can accomplish.

This is not to suggest that Barcelona could achieve the results they have without the MSN combination. It’s obvious that the trio are vital to the team’s success but aside from an injury to Messi last season, Enrique hasn’t needed to solve that problem.

With reports that Messi or Neymar, or both could leave the club, the Barca boss might well have to alter the system, but considering his past it appears he is capable of adapting.

In the meantime, Barcelona will continue to play a style of football that encourages MSN to flourish and we should be thankful to Luis Enrique for continuing Barcelona’s tradition of being one the world’s most attractive football teams.

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4 min read
Published 12 January 2016 at 3:19am
By Vitor Sobral