A peculiar negative streak of Lionel Messi puts Barcelona on the ropes

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The crack has five games without scoring in the Spanish League and the Catalan team wanders below the middle of the table.

Barcelona is tumbling in La Liga. Saturday’s draw against Alavés definitely set off the alarm for the Catalans, who they could only add two points from the last 12 and they are moving further and further away from the top of the tournament: now they are nine. Much has to do with streak negative Lionel Messi for a tournament start in the last 13 years.

The crack failed to convert in the last five games and only scored a penalty at the dawn of the tournament, with the 4-0 win against Villarreal. With a single goal in the first six rounds, Barça’s top scorer registers one of his worst starts as a scorer and also as an assistant. In the last five dates he did not get an assist and it takes 540 minutes without marking a goal in the league.

To find Messi’s first bad start, you have to rewind 13 years, to the 2006-07 season. There he had scored three goals in the first six dates (against Celta de Vigo, Osasuna and Sevilla). Of course, with other colleagues, such as Ronaldinho, Saviola or Samuel E’to.

Another similar triplet occurred in the 2010-11 season, when he converted Racing de Santander, Atlético de Madrid and Mallorca. Although in this season Barcelona would culminate as champion. A fact that would be repeated in the 2015-16 season, when Messi did only three in that period: one to Atlético Madrid and two to Levante, with another Catalan title.

Although it has two less disputed games (it must clash against Elche and Athletic Bilbao), the concern multiplies in Barcelona: poor performance and poor results they became a difficult to digest cocktail. And although the blame is shared, the numbers speak for themselves.

Inside the bad starts for him crack it is excepted the previous season, when Leo did not play during the first four dates by being injured.

The Catalan fan is used to something else when it comes to Messi and his explosive start to the season. And the statistics are overwhelming: five goals in three consecutive seasons (2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10) and the same number of goals during the 2014-15 and 2018-19 tournaments.

Six goals in the six opening dates in the 2012-13 season, seven goals in the following championship, eight in 2011-12 and a chilling figure of nine goals in six games during La Liga 2017-18.

Accustomed year after year to being at the top of the goal and assists classification, Messi does not find his level and Barcelona is paying for it. The last data: the four goals of the Rosario since they started the League, the Champions League and the South American Qualifiers have only been penalties: Villarreal, Ecuador, Ferencvaros and Juventus.

Messi’s drought is compounded by the absence of a “9”. Barcelona dispensed with Luis Suárez, now at Atlético de Madrid, who in the last tournament had scored 16 goals. And since he could not hire another center forward in his category, the team is downhill. That added to the little prominence of players like Griezmann or Dembélé, who squander clear situations.

Without Messi’s goals and the absence of a center forward, Ansu Fati became Barsa’s offensive leader. The 18-year-old forward scored four of his team’s 10 goals in the first six domestic games.

The other six were shared by Messi, Coutinho, Sergi Roberto, Griezmann, as well as two other goals against them: Pau Torres, from Villarreal, and Lucas Olaza, from Celta. It is clear that Ansu is not enough.

Koeman is concerned about the lack of aim. “It can’t be, we failed too much,” he lamented after the draw against Alavés. Also Antoine Griezmann, after ending his negative streak, made self-criticism: “We are failing a lot, I am the first. We have to work to improve. The season is very long and we are going to be safer.”

The low yields coincide with the general malaise that the Catalans have been experiencing for a couple of months. To the shameful elimination of the last Champions League with a lapidary 8-2 by Bayern Munich, we must add Messi’s threat of termination, the going through the back door of Suárez and the door slammed days ago by Josep Bartomeu, president of the club.

For now Barcelona is shipwrecked in the League. It will be necessary to see if Ronald Koeman has enough waist to be able to take out the team that is on the ropes.

HS

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