Barcelona Players Having Great Seasons That Are Overshadowed by Messi's Magic
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For all the talk and praise surrounding Leonel Messi and his (yet again) incredible season, he's not the only player at Barcelona who's been playing magical football over the last eight months.
Here are a few players whose excellent seasons have been somewhat overshadowed by Messi, but who nevertheless have been carrying the Blaugrana forward and have as much to do with the little Argentine's success as the man himself.
The midfield three: Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta
Although Iniesta has played off and on as a winger this season, if recent matches are anything to judge by, Barcelona are still at their most dangerous with the Illusionista in the center alongside his long-time Barcelona mates. All three players are at the pinnacle of their form.
Xavi continues to do what Xavi does best: connect passes with astonishing accuracy (over 95 percent success in La Liga). He has also contributed his fair share of goals (five) and assists (nine) in the Champions League and La Liga combined. During Barcelona's worst stretch of the season through February, some people singled out Xavi for criticism, saying his style was too slow and deliberate. His phenomenal performance in the comeback against Milan will surely silence those critics for some time.
Iniesta, similarly solid as a passer, adds another dimension to Barca's attack as an increasingly elusive dribbler, and also leads La Liga in assists with 13. His ability to wriggle out of trouble and glide elegantly past defenders is unparalleled in all of world football. Like Messi, he just keeps getting better.
Busquets, while providing solid cover on the defensive end, is much more than a link between defense and midfield going forward. He's proven quite a facilitator with an impressive assist against Espanyol and increasingly incisive passes that were most recently on display against Milan.
Messi, of course, benefits enormously from the incredible play of the midfielders behind him, and they are another reason Barca have been able to manage the somewhat disappointing return of Pedro and Alexis Sanchez.
Though some say he doesn't fit into the side as well as a more defensive-minded Abidal, Jordi Alba's play in his first season at the Camp Nou has nevertheless been spectacular. One of the fastest players in La Liga, Alba's lightning-quick runs forward catch defenders completely off-guard.
He has the ability to inject an energy and unpredictability into an attack that occasionally appears static. And, though he's far from the world's most reliable full-back on the defensive end, he's a solid defender nevertheless and can hardly be blamed for Barca's midseason defensive woes. Say what you will about his positioning; he makes his runs forward count.
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