FC Barcelona opened up their La Liga season last weekend with a 4-2 result against Real Sociedad. At various points in the match, it didn’t seem as though they’d miss Lionel Messi.
However, this weekend, a dose of reality was splashed in their fixture against Athletic Club, where Barcelona needed a goal from Memphis Depay late in the match to walk away with a 1-1 draw.
After the match, manager Ronald Koeman spoke to the media about the effect of not having Messi for these fixtures, where the 34-year-old could still drag the Spanish club to a win.
“I don’t always like to talk about the same thing… but, of course, he’s the best player in the world. We can see that Messi is not there. The opponent is certainly more frightened if he is on the pitch,” Koeman said.
“We prefer to have it. Because Messi does not lose the ball. In the first half, we lost some balls and we couldn’t get the team-up. It shows, but we know we can’t change it.”