Barça face Atlético with pressure still on Luis Enrique

Barça 1-1 Atletico Madrid Neymar jump Champions League quarter final 2014Barça’s 5-0 victory over Elche on Thursday night and the announcement of presidential elections may have served briefly to calm the storm at Camp Nou, but Luis Enrique’s position continues to be in doubt as Atlético Madrid come to town for the 18th round of the 2014/15 Liga (Sunday 9 pm). Xavi Hernandez with a calf injury is a serious doubt for the game while Jeremy Mathieu is hoping to receive medical clearance in time to play.

Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu last night denied that Leo Messi had asked for Luis Enrique’s head in reply to a story in the local media. According to TV3 Bartomeu spoke to Messi after the Elche game and the player is supposed to have informed the president that he is not happy with the coach. The story has also been denied by sources close to Messi though it seems clear that the relationship between player and coach is not great.

We need to be very careful about believing what we read these days as there will no doubt be interests behind many stories. There have always been lies from the anti-Barça press in Madrid with the intention of destabilizing the club, but now with elections on the horizon it is possible that certain Barcelona-based journalists, who may have an interest in supporting different candidates, also reinvent the truth in order to discredit Bartomeu.

It’s a rocky situation and it seems likely we will continue to hear rumours of Messi leaving the club. Many fans are defiantly saying that this will never happen, and the fair-play transfer regulations seem likely to make it very difficult. It may all be a power game and I feel sure that deep down Messi wants to stay, however, his greatest desire is to carry on winning trophies and if Barça fail to win anything again this season and Messi doesn’t believe in the project for 2015/16 then there is a real possibility he will look elsewhere for success.

Tomorrow’s game provides another page to the story. Luis Enrique is only supported by 29% of supporters according to Sport and failure to win tomorrow would further weaken his position. Messi will do his talking on the pitch and we must hope he can improve on last season’s performances against Atlético. The Argentinian has scored a total of 20 goals in games against Los Colchoneros but he failed to find the net in six meetings last season against Diego Simeone’s men.

Curiously, despite his supposed discontent Messi has been showing signs of his brilliant best. One wonders, however, how long he will put up with playing on the right. When Luis Suarez first appeared in the team it seemed it would be the Uruguayan who who have to adapt to the wing but recently Luis Enrique has preferred to use him in a central position with Messi returning to the role he had in his early years under Frank Rijkaard.

Against Atlético I’d like to see Messi restored to his false nine role with Pedro and Neymar attacking from the flanks. If Mathieu isn’t fully fit then Mascherano will probably return to defence alongside Piqué meaning a probable midfield of Rakitic, Busquets and Iniesta.

Barça 1-1 Atletico Madrid Iniesta shot Godin block Champions League quarter final 2014We know Simeone’s Atlético well, they will be physically very strong and especially dangerous at set-pieces. Simeone has made some important changes since last season with Moya replacing Courtois in goal and Siqueira coming in for Filipe Luis at left back. Diego Costa and David Villa have left with the attack now formed by Mandzukic and Griezmann. Recent signings Fernando Torres and Cani seem more likely to start on the bench but there could be a surprise in defence with 19-year-old Uruguayan José Maria Giménez maintaining his place after scoring in Atlético’s 2-0 win over Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday which would mean Miranda starting on the bench.

Possible teams:

Barça: Bravo; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Neymar.

Atlético: Moya; Juanfran, Giménez, Godin, Siqueira; Arda, Gabi, Tiago, Koke; Mandzukic, Greizmann.

Prediction: Barça 1 Atlético Madrid 0

Date: Sunday 11 January 2015. Kick-off 9 pm local time.

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8 Responses to Barça face Atlético with pressure still on Luis Enrique

  1. Yes many lies being told but where there is smoke there usually is fire. I “hate” that many have FCB confused with “MCB” (Messi Club de Futbol). Honestly, I want him to go. Lucho has as much a claim to this club as MESSI does. We cannot live or die based on one player’s mood or opinion; it just is not sustainable. Lucho is a great coach and to me this is the opportunity to put Messi in his place: The club is bigger and will ALWAYS be bigger than you are. We once sold the best player in the World (Diego Armando Maradona) and survived it well. So, this silliness must stop. No player should be “boss” of any team. This is whole situation really gets to me. I want peace and good futbol and PUNTO. Now, even Neymar is following in his footsteps with the cold shoulder he gave to Lucho after being subbed against Elche. Since when do play Ra decide when, where or how to play or be subbed…arrghh! They should all Sthu and sit down.

    • Hi Diatus. it is obviously a very valid point that the club is bigger than any player but I am not convinced that selling Messi will be a good move. Putting aside my desire to continue enjoying Messi every week, I honestly don’t think it is in the club’s interests to sell him. With the big rich clubs dominating more and more, nearly all the world’s top players are playing in five or six teams and nobody wants to sell to another big club. Finding another Messi is obviously impossible but the idea that we could then use the money from selling Messi to buy a new star-studded team isn’t so easy. Look what we did with the money when we sold F*** to Madrid in 2000, a similar case might be said of Tottenham after selling Bale, you have lots of money but the obligation to spend it while opposing clubs hike up their prices. Then you get a lot of big names who then need to gel together, it’s not easy.
      As for Messi’s attitude I think we have to accept all the players are human and at times they may show their emotions. But what exactly has Messi done that we know of? Most of it is press interpretation of very minor incidents.and hardly a reason to turn against him. The same goes for Neymar, he’s not exactly the first player to be pissed off when being subbed off. I suppose only time and results on the pitch will show the true situation at the club.

    • layibiyi says:

      Even if Messi is the one majorly at fault (which I don’t think), Lucho has done nothing so far to deserve the benefit of the doubt. His secret ways and lack of communication has been a problem since last year. The reports have mentioned other players aren’t in tune with him as well, Messi just happen to be the face of the rebellion (willingly or unwillingly) given obvious reasons.

      Another funny thing about the whole issue is that almost the exact same scenario happened under his regime at Roma, when he came head to head with Totti (though there was less turmoil at Roma). I generally and still would continue to be patient but Lucho has definitely not convinced so far

  2. layibiyi says:

    Mascherano as CB against Atletico again??? How many times do we have to try this. I really hope not

  3. There I disagree Nic. For someone who gets a new contract every other day much is expected. To go confront a coach because he did not call a foul on you in practice is absolutely ridiculous. To be mad a at a coach because he left you 45 minutes on the bench is another ridiculous thing.Who knew Messi would ever come along? Who knows what the future holds? I just do not accept that we should be held hostage by this one player. I remember Pep leaving and not even saying goodbye to him and I wondered why for so long. He didn’t even attend his goodbye press conference. Now things are starting to fall into place a bit. Everyone should push back to this constant need of attention and “my way or the highway” attitude. He should be cared for and loved as the great player he is but not like this.

    Layi, I am not completely and blindly defending Lucho. You have valid points tactically speaking but his departure or consolidation should not depend on one player’s opinion. It should depend on results. We are sitting second in the league and have not really had any major slip ups besides one bad one.
    Look, I hear both of you. We have been spoiled by his talent over the years but believe me, Messi has not been as great as he has been alone. It was because of the exceptional likes of Xavi, Iniesta, ALVES,etc that he managed to be what he is. That last part is coming from a fan of Argentina. It is true that he is only 27 and still had a lot of futbol to give but I am just not one to be push around everyday at the same time by the same guy!!!!

  4. Here in the US, many will be watching the NFL tomorrow afternoon. With all that is going on at Camp Nou, Atletico’s victory over Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey, and both Barca and Atletico trying catch Real Madrid, this is going to be the game to watch.

  5. Hadilchechu says:

    I want news from here.

  6. Barca4Lyfe says:

    Dear Luis Enrique, for The love of God pls stick with pretty much the same line-up vs Elche. I really really hope you play a line up something similar or Atleast something close to

    ************Bravo ***********

    Montoya*****Pique*****Bartra*****Alba

    *******************Mascherano************

    *******Rakitic *************************Iniesta

    ******Messi********Suarez******Neymar

    Seriously, pls don’t play a super odd looking line up. I’m really one of those fans that think you are MENTALLY UNSTABLE!! Pls do something to prove me wrong, thank you!

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