With Lionel Messi still sidelined for up to three weeks due to a hamstring injury Barcelona will need several players to step up their performances. Missing Messi will always be difficult to overcome, but it doesn’t have to be overly harmful to the Catalan club.
In this article we will take a look at which players will need to step up the most for Barcelona and why their roles will become more important than ever.
As always feel free to have your say in the comment section below and note that all statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com.
This one is easy. With Messi out of the picture right now, scoring will have to come from somewhere.
Neymar is the club’s most dangerous player at this point and will have to be even more so with his teammate sidelined.
So far this season Neymar has not been able to become a consistent goal scorer. He may be a more than capable creator at this point having given six assists, but goals must start coming for the Brazilian.
The biggest gap left by Messi’s absence is clearly scoring. Other players are capable of providing creativity and assists but Neymar is the only player that brings a killer instinct in front of goal.
The 21-year-old scored one goal against Real Valladolid at the weekend but expect him to do even more in the coming matches.
I will group Alexis Sanchez and Pedro together for the mere reason that they are in the same boat at this point. The two wingers have been in wonderful this season scoring nine goals between them and will have to keep the momentum going.
Neymar cannot be expected to do it alone and that is where these two come into the picture.
Both Sanchez and Pedro are hard workers who never stop running.
They create constant problems for defenders in every match. But with Messi sidelined the wingers must show more consistency in their matches.
The duo have been fighting for the starting role all season and have an even bigger chance to state their case with Messi out. The competition will be great for them personally, but it will pay off even more for Barcelona as a whole.
Cesc Fabregas has been by far one of the standout players for La Blaugrana this season and will have to play an even more important role with Messi missing out in the coming matches.
The Catalan has given six assists this season as he has been in impeccable form in the center of the pitch.
His creativity and ability to build play has paid dividends for Barcelona but now he is asked to do even more.
The 26-year-old is capable of featuring in place of Messi as the leader of the attack, but his talents are better suited behind the striker. Fabregas will be the most important goal creator with Messi sidelined and will have to be at his best.
He is also capable of scoring the odd goal and will look to be another option for Barcelona, but the most important thing is that he holds all play together.
Other players can step up in scoring roles in place of Messi but that will mean very little if Fabregas isn’t able to feed them chances.
With Messi out all of the focus will be on Barcelona’s attacking, but the real pressure will be on midfielder Sergio Busquets.
The 25-year-old is often overlooked in the Barcelona system but he plays the most important role of anyone in the squad. He builds up play, reads the game better than anyone else and provides the protection and link between the defenders and attackers.
Busquets always has a very difficult task in every match but somehow he always comes through. But with Messi out of the picture, his job becomes much tougher.
Barcelona is more prone to give away possession with Messi off the pitch and have to defend more than they normally do. Busquets will have to step up and become even more influential if the Catalans are to continue their recent run of success.
He may be the brightest player in the world at his position, but Busquets will be forced to do twice as much without the security of Messi in front of him.
Which players must step up with Messi sidelined? Can Barcelona continue their winning ways without their best player? Leave your thoughts and comments below!