Barcelona have an overall record of 19-4-2 in the 2014-15 season, competing for a title in La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League. And yet things don't look good for the Blaugrana. Following a disappointing loss to Real Sociedad on Sunday night, some worrying reports coming out of Catalunya suggest that the team is in worse shape than the numbers might say.
On Monday morning, eleven thousand fans (a lot of them kids) packed the Mini Estadi to watch an open training session organized by coach Luis Enrique. They saw a personal show by Neymar and players like Rakitic and Suárez loved the experience. But one absence stole the headlines.
Lionel Messi missed the practice, due to what the club called a gastroenteritis. But that's not the entire story. According to sources, Messi didn't show up to training because he can't stand coach Luis Enrique anymore. Since Lucho arrived, the relationship between the boss and the club's biggest star was never good. Leo was reportedly disappointed with Enrique's tactical change that made Messi less of a goalscorer and more of a facilitator. As the best player in the world, Messi has been flawless in his new role on the team, but he's doing it to be professional, not because he wants it, sources say.
Things have gotten worse between the two after the El Clásico loss to Real Madrid, a game in which Messi definitely underperformed. Since that game, Leo has been unstoppable, but he's not happy at all this season. In the eyes of a few players in the locker room, Enrique hasn't given Messi the same freedom Leo had before. One source said: "it seems like Lucho is trying to force his authority down Leo's troath".
According to the reports, the locker room is divided. Captains like Xavi and Andrés Iniesta have tried to make peace between coaches and players, but there's a substantial portion of the locker room that has backed Messi on the issue, including Neymar Jr., who is reportedly having some problems of his own with Enrique.
Perhaps that's what's caused Ney and Leo to watch most of the game against Sociedad from the bench. Again according to reports, the two players had a heated discussion with Enrique when they heard about being benched.
Things definitely don't look good for Barça. Not only on the pitch, but in the locker room.
- FC Barcelona News: 5 January 2015; Barça Lose to Real Sociedad (Again), Lionel Messi Misses Training
- Full Match Highlights: Real Sociedad 1-0 FC Barcelona
- Breaking Barça: Luis Enrique & FCB Board Destroying Barcelona
- La Liga: Real Sociedad 1-0 FC Barcelona: Match Review
- La Liga: Real Sociedad vs FC Barcelona: Live Game Thread