Reports: Lionel Messi trains alone in aftermath of Juventus defeat due to rift with Luis Enrique
Is Lionel Messi done with FC Barcelona?
What’s the story?
Barcelona were handed a 3-0 defeat by a Paulo Dybala inspired Juventus on Tuesday night. The thrashing cast doubts over the Catalan outfit’s chances of progressing to the semi-finals of the elite European competition as overturning a 3-0 deficit against the Italian champions is too big an ask even for a club of Barcelona’s stature.
However, in the aftermath of the overwhelming defeat it is being reported by Spanish daily Marca that Lionel Messi trained alone yesterday, while Luis Enrique vented out on the entire squad for about 30 minutes before the start of training. According to the report, the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner trained alone in the gym while the rest of the squad was grilled by the outgoing Spaniard.
The decision by the Argentine to train alone will bring into spotlight his relationship with Enrique and if the already strained relationship is fractured further. It is also worth noting that Messi has less than 15 months left on his contract with the Camp Nou outfit and an exit is the summer, how so ever unlikely it may have seemed, looks plausible now.
In case you didn’t know…
Barcelona were humiliated by the Turin giants on Tuesday night as Paulo Dybala netted twice in the first half, before a goal from Giorgio Chiellini helped seal the 3-goal win.
The Catalan giants came back from a similar situation against PSG only last month in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Having lost the first-leg 4-0, the Blaugrana managed to overturn it in the second leg, winning the tie 6-5 in dramatic fashion as they recorded one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the competition.
The heart of the matter
Luis Enrique’s decision to go with the 3-3-1-3 formation backfired heavily during the game as the Juventus wingers, especially Juan Cuadrado, were afforded too much space on the wings and they made Barcelona pay for it. The 46-year-old has previously been criticised for his lack of tactical know-how of the game.
The Catalans have struggled to get going all season and the manager has had to bear the brunt of the fans. His recruitment last summer also did not go as per plan as they players have struggled to establish themselves in the first-team.
Following the loss, Enrique came down hard on the Barcelona players in training as he pointed out all the mistakes that they made in the game against the Turin giants. Enrique is set to leave the Camp Nou side in the summer and a successor is yet to be named.
Barcelona have a weekend game against Real Sociedad before they take on Juventus at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. Lionel Messi and company have now last back-to-back games and will be hoping to turn it around at the weekend before hosting the Turin giants for a final showdown where they will be hoping to replicate their performance of last month, when they dumped PSG out of the competition.
Barcelona have regressed under Enrique and were completely destroyed by Juventus and before them PSG in back to back away Champions League games. Not only does it highlight the lack of tactical knowledge of the Spanish manager but might also suggest that he has lost the dressing room, or they might have been fed up with his tactics.
The Camp Nou outfit needs to put the turbulence within the club aside and prepare for their do-or-die game against Juventus.