After a decent start to the season followed by a slight blip in form, Roger Schmidt’s Bayer Leverkusen is once again gaining confidence these past few weeks. Coming off a dominant 3-0 victory against Werder Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen are now tied at 12 points with Wolfsburg for fourth place in the Bundesliga. Even without Messi, this group-stage tie should provide plenty of excitement, especially after the draw in Rome increases the pressure for a blaugrana victory.
With a fervent and idealistic manager in Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen is known for its intense pressing. His side will aim to put FC Barcelona on the backfoot right from the outset of the match. In fact, Leverkusen will be hoping to follow Celta’s example. This is because Celta manager Eduardo Berrizo successfully prevented Barcelona from playing out from the back, employing tight man-marking coverage in key individual battles which kept Barça in their own defensive third for large periods of time.
WHAT WILL BE THE NEW CULÉ TRIDENT WITHOUT MESSI?
CLASSIC TRIDENT WITH NEY, SUÁREZ AND MESSI
TRIDENT WITH NEY, SUÁREZ AND INIESTA
TRIDENT WITH NEY, SUÁREZ AND MUNIR
TO WIN WITHOUT MESSI
Chicharito’s Bayer Leverkusen, the first problem for Barça after the serious injury of their franchise player
Lucho has studied to play with a 4-4-2 leaving only Neymar and Suarez on point. Alba and Bravo have recuperated.
SUÁREZ AND NEYMAR HAVE TO DO IT LIKE MESSI
Last season they were decisive in the Champions with 17 goals between them
THE FEDERATION WON’T ENROLL ARDA TURAN
BLATTER WON’T RESIGN
He’ll be back
According to Argentina team doctor Donato Villani, Lionel Messi could return to action sooner than originally predicted.
“This is not damage that requires surgery. It will heal with time off from play as the first step and then kinesiology. I have known Leo for years and I have no doubt that he is going to be ready to play again in the shortest time possible, maybe before the date that was estimated.”
Messi’s eagerness to return to the football pitch is well known, but even though his doctor is optimistic, it might be better in the greater scheme of things if La Pulga takes it slow.
However, it has also been reported that Messi could indeed make his comeback before or at the Clasico on November 21. It is probably touch and go either way.
In light of Catalonia’s recent parliamentary elections, LFP’s president Javier Tebas Medrano made his opinion on the matter crystal clear with this tweet: “If Spain splits, so too does La Liga. Let’s hope we never reach that absurd situation.”
I’m not here to discuss the never-ending political arguments with our Doctor N. Gin-looking league president; I am, however, here to burst Mr Tebas’ bubble. It doesn’t matter whether Catalonia gets its independence – if ever – or not; The fact is that La Liga needs Barça more than Barça needs La Liga.
After the midweek 4-1 evisceration at the hands of Luis Enrique’s former team, Celta Vigo, the blaugrana were universally predicted to set the record straight, and respond against La Liga minnows, Las Palmas.
Respond though they did, the encounter was marred by a knee injury suffered by Lionel Messi, which saw the diminutive Argentine wizard leave the field of play as early as the ninth minute. While the injury – expected to keep Messi on the side-lines for a shade under two months – is undoubtedly a huge concern, picking up the three points against the Canarians was anything but; Barcelona barely did, nor did they need to, get out of second gear to stroll to victory – don’t let the misleading scoreline tell you otherwise.
As the Catalans rarely deviated from the hallmarks and general pattern of play of Luis Enrique’s system – tactics which have been analysed and discussed here time and again – today’s review is concerned with three things: Las Palmas’ overcomplicated and disjointed approach, the merits of individualism in a ‘controlled chaos’ setting, and the discrepancy in approach in fulfilling what can (ostensibly) be considered an identical role.
CRISTIANO IS INDEPENDENT
OF THE GOAL
CR7: “THE LAST STRAW WILL BE WHEN CATALUNYA IS INDEPENDENT… AND ESPANYOL STOPS PLAYING IN LA LIGA. THEN I WON’T SCORE A DAMN GOAL IN CENTURIES.”
MESSI WILL BE IN THE CLÁSICO
THE DOCTORS COMMUNICATE THAT HE WILL PLAY AGAINST MADRID
He began his recuperation yesterday and will be out for seven weeks
After one month, he will be able to run and will arrive in top shape on November 21st
CONFIRMED: NEXT STOP, BERNABÉU
The clásico on the 21st of November will be the scene of Messi’s reappearance
Yesterday he started his rehabilitation with maturity and optimism