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Barcelona need Messi's goals but also his mood to be right


There is a historical difference between Real Madrid and Barcelona that has been very relevant in recent days. In the past few days we have watched on as Los Blancos were eliminated from the Champions League by Chelsea, and with VAR working against them, punished in Sevilla's penalty area only to equalise in the dying minutes. Yesterday we saw Barça build a comfortable 0-2 lead in the first half, before stuttering in the second and then finding no way to get the ball into Aitor's goal again as the game drew to a close. The match ended with a Levante corner. Koeman has not been able to resolve these lapses of the team, ones that bring out the furrowed brow from Messi, who has a bad habit of disappearing when things are not going well.

Barça: an unsettled mix of players

After the full time whistle, Busquets acknowledged that their LaLiga title chances had gone. Gone because of those lapses that seem to always expose the fragility of their defence. Barça have scored far more goals than their two title rivals, but they have also conceded far more. In these moments of decline, the defence is shown up for what it is in all its rawness: a horror movie. This Barça side is an unsettled mix of the old guard, some expensive, fairly recent signings, and a group of young newcomers. The Barça of not so long ago used to feast on ball possession when they weren’t feeling so confident. This Barça don’t know how and therefore can't do that. And when Messi starts to sulk…

Barcelona stars against Levante
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Barcelona stars against LevanteALBERTO IRANZODIARIO AS

Barça depend on Messi's goals...and his mood

That is the thermometer of Barça: Messi's scowl. He started the season with a frown and he is doing so again. Everything revolves around him. The goals are his responsibility, but the team depends as much on them as on his mood, changeable like the spring weather. With that in mind, it was not surprising that Levante, a decent team who breathed a very long sigh of relief when they secured their safety, derailed the Catalans last night. It was a draw, and one achieved away from home, but it now puts Barça in a grim place, one that casts a dark cloud over the futures of Koeman and Messi. Barça badly needed this league title, but they have shot themselves in the foot.