3 ways Barcelona are suffering in the absence of Lionel Messi
It was indeed surprising to see Barcelona perform at a brilliant level without Messi, assuring their fans that there is and will be life at Barca after Messi.
However, a 5-1 win against a struggling Real Madrid side was not enough to display their potential, as Barcelona surrendered a one-goal lead to Inter Milan at the San Siro, as Icardi scored the equaliser in the 87th minute of the game.
Dembele was the man who started ahead of Rafinha in place of Leo Messi, as his second-half performance against Real Madrid after coming off the bench earned him a start in the next game at the San Siro.
The lack of a playmaker was pretty much clear from the first minute of the game. Coutinho was probably the best player for Barcelona that day, as he created chances in abundance for his teammates.
But those 'clear-cut' through balls were missing, which only Leo can execute.
Barcelona lacks stability without Leo Messi, and the attack suffers tremendously when he isn't playing.
There isn't a better playmaker than Leo Messi currently, with probably just Ozil coming close. His vision, accuracy, and presence of mind are second to none, and it is not surprising that Barcelona suffer without such qualities.
Lack of creative players in the line-up turns out to be a difficult conundrum for the coaching staff to solve, and that is the sole reason why Barcelona suffer without Leo.
The attackers have one less job to do when Messi is around. Suarez and Coutinho have shown immense confidence and belief in what Messi does, as we have often seen them making runs and leaving dummies for Messi.
But that is not the case when Messi is not playing. Coutinho tries to drop back and collect the ball to start attacks, something he does not need to do when Messi plays, and Suarez drifts wide to receive passes. They exert themselves much more than normal.
Messi's work rate without the ball is below average, but with the ball at his feet, there isn't much any defender can do to stop him.