Barcelona's famed Messi, Suarez, Neymar trio has been lauded by fans and critics alike as possibly the best attacking side in the world of football. However, there are a few out there who are a bit reserved about the strikers. Recently, Germany's former midfielder and captain, Michael Ballack, revealed his veneration for the MSN, but was also quick to judge their style of play. Ballack admitted the three forwards are "outstanding", but continued by calling them "divas" because "they don't like to defend".
Ballack, however, couldn't be further from the truth.
Barcelona's South American trio are not the kind of players to just sit back and wait for a pass. Messi, for instance, has consistently made deep runs into his own end to win a lost or stolen ball. Furthermore, a quick glance at any of the Argentine's positional heat maps would show that he spends a large amount of time hovering just above the halfway line (a truly strange occurrence for a striker), perfectly positioned to either chase down and tackle any would-be heroes or make another elusive run for goal.
While Messi's defensive skill has been well-documented throughout Barcelona's history, i.e. his nearly 40 yard run to defend against an attacking Getafe player in April, Luis Suarez is just beginning to make his mark. The Uruguayan has been unbelievable since his move to the Camp Nou. He's a player who is constantly treading the thin line between on and off-side while on the hunt for a goal-scoring opportunity, yet he always manages to play a defensive role. The Blaugrana's recent acquisition has never been one to shy away from an offensive challenge and, like Messi, knows how to get a little dirty when taking down a player. Suarez's determination to win the ball, whether it's in his own half or not, has made him a real terror for any player that finds himself on the pitch.
Neymar, on the other hand, is deserving of Ballack's criticism. He is probably the only player on the squad who rarely defends, but, with Messi and Suarez making defensive runs on a regular basis, Barcelona would be teetering on ludicrous if the Brazilian followed suit. There is no need for all three attackers to fall back into a defensive position.
It's obvious that Michael Ballack's harsh words were uncalled for and on the verge of ignorance. Barcelona's strength in both offense and defense have led them to two trophies this season and, come Saturday's Champions League final, the Catalan's may soon find themselves lifting their third.