It looked ugly, it sounded ugly, it felt ugly, and it was ugly. But Barcelona got the job done in the first full match without Lionel Messi, coming from behind to get a miracle win over Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday's Champions League match. Here's a few takeaways from what we saw at Camp Nou:
1. Luis Suárez is the best striker on the planet. I don't care what everyone else says, or the 37 goals Robert Lewandowski has scored in the last twelve minutes. The Uruguayan is the most complete player at his position in all of football. The game-winner he scored is something very few players can do, and that is what Barça paid lots and lots of money for. Neymar might be the most creative and magical part of what's left of the MSN trio without Messi, but El Pistolero is certainly the most decisive. He is incredible.
2. As crazy as it sounds, the defense hasn't been bad. The numbers are insane and tell a completely different story, but Barça has been solid at the back. The problem is actually in front of them, with a midfield that loses a lot of balls and puts pressure on the defense, and if the defense is outnumbered, then they will concede. It's that simple. But the actual back four, and goalkeeper Ter Stegen, has had a very decent run other than the debacle against Celta Vigo, and we saw that again in the Leverkusen match. It's easy to point fingers to MAtS and Co. for the defensive issues, but it's not all their fault. Fix the midfield and the passing accuracy, and everything will be fine.
3. There is now simply no excuse to leave Sergi Samper at Barça B. I've given up on Luis Enrique seeing Samper's undeniable talent and giving him a chance over freaking Gumbau, but with Iniesta's injury, there are three healthy first team midfielders. Gumbau will be on the bench on the weekend game against Sevilla, but we need another guy. Samper is the only plausible choice, and he deserves minutes with the big boys. Please do it, Lucho. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. I SWEAR.