One look at Barcelona’s injury report is enough to make an any coach or fan’s stomach drop. Messi has an MCL tear and Rakitic has a torn calf that may force him to a month-long absence. Other injuries from earlier in the year include Sergi Roberto’s strained abductor against BATE Borisov, Rafinha’s torn ACL, and Iniesta’s hamstring tear to name a few. The full list of injuries and illnesses is even longer.
One has to wonder, is it just blind luck? Are the players and trainers taking proper care of themselves? What on Earth is going on?
This endless list would be a cause for incredible concern at most clubs. The best player in the world is most certainly out for El Clasico and now Ivan Rakitic, who played a crucial part in Barcelona’s Champions league push last season, can’t play.
For any other team, these things would add up to a draw at the best in the Bernabeu. But fear not! Even with these injuries, Cules all over the world have reason to believe in their team in spite of the obvious obstacles.
Here are four reasons for optimism despite the injury crisis:
Neymar and Suarez are on fire
Need I say more? Fortunately, Barcelona went from having the best trident in the world to having the best duo in the world. The pair is in perfect sync at the moment, each more than willing to pass to the other knowing the ball will soon be in the back of the net. Since Messi’s injury against Las Palmas, the South Americans have combined for 17 goals with nine going to Neymar and eight to Suarez. An extraordinary attack even without Messi!
The rise and rise of Sergio Busquets
Over the past year, Busquets has been adapting to a slightly more aggressive role in the build up play, as shown by the outstanding part he played in the Catalans' recent wins over BATE and Getafe. The Spanish international barely put a foot wrong, which is no longer a surprise.
Busquets' recent performances have drawn praise from Luis Enrique, who said he “has been perfect" because, in his eyes, the No.5 is “the best midfielder in the world.” With the Badia-born playmaker's current stellar run of form, it is hard to argue with the Barcelona boss.
Talent runs deep
In addition to the stars mentioned previously, Sergi Roberto’s well documented form of late culminated in his spectacular game against Getafe. His first assist in the match came as a result of a stunning heel flick off a cross directly to the feet of a poaching Luis Suarez. Perhaps more importantly, the La Masia graduate's performances are already hinting that his best is yet to come.
Encouragingly, Cules will also be welcoming Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal to their team's rotation in January. These quality new signings will add another layer of depth for players that may need rest, such as Dani Alves, who has no real back-up and has been playing a lot of minutes recently.
Barcelona is a second-half team
Last year it seemed like the sky was falling half-way through the season, but things turned around and resulted in the club's instantly legendary second treble.
So far this season, there have been no real team set backs which could even remotely compare to last year’s alleged locker room strife. But in addition to adding Vidal and Turan after the new year, it seems like Luis Enrique knows how to get Messi & Co. playing at their best when it really counts.
At the end of last season, the team looked close to unbeatable with all the players seemingly in perfect harmony. There are plenty of reasons to believe our beloved Barcelona will get the job done once again.