There is no doubt that F.C. Barcelona is one of the greatest teams in the world, their financial power over the transfer market is at the top and their style of play has become a trademark in the soccer world. The obligation of winning every game comes with the history of the team and that’s why loosing against a team like Ajax should come across not just as trouble, but also as a failure.
Although this game was the last game of the group stage and Barcelona has already qualified for the next round, loosing against Ajax with most of the starting team on play should be alarming. Losing is not an option for a team like Barcelona, they have a competitive team for every competition, even if they had a team full of substitute players.
This proves the importance of Lionel Messi in this team, the fact that Barcelona can’t win decisive and competitive games without their star player has become more than certain. The team is completely dependent on Messi, the Argentinean star not only is a symbol for the club, but also has the presence and personality to carry the team in crucial games.
Does this mean that Barcelona has become so dependent on Messi that even a world-ranked player like Neymar can’t fill the hole? Let’s not forget that until Tuesday’s game, Barcelona was undefeated and had matched the record for the best start of a season in the history of the club. The problem was not the score of the game, in soccer losing is part of the game, it was the performance and lack of control that Barcelona always had against rivals.
“We lacked intensity and precision,” said Martino when asked about the performance of the team “when playing against a team who needs to win to qualify, we need intensity the whole 90 minutes.”
The Argentinean national team has had the opportunity to test out players in case that Messi does not make the World Cup on June, this could be seen as an advantage since Argentina is only playing friendlies without any real competition. Barcelona, in the other hand, does not have the chance to try out players and they have to choose and make it work with what they have. Martino’s decision in playing Neymar is without a question the best one, the youngster is the only player promising enough to fill in the shoes of the best.