Barcelona needed a late comeback to pull off a fantastic 3-2 victory over Valencia at Mestalla on Saturday, which is a third consecutive win for the Catalan giants since the international break. The Blaugrana didn't play their best game, but never stopped believing and won the game with a last-second penalty from Lionel Messi.
Here's a few takeaways from what took place on Saturday:
1 - Luis Enrique's Barça isn't as pretty, but fights harder
Would we have won Saturday's game in the Pep Guardiola Era? Probably, because that team played great football in nearly every match, but what if it didn't? Was there a Plan B or C? Could the team find a way to overcome a bad performance and come back at Mestalla? Yeah.
Luis Enrique's team doesn't play that beautiful football from the Pep Era. Guardiola's opera was replaced by Lucho's punk rock style. It's not as beautiful or eye-pleasing, but it's intense and gritty, which is beautiful in its own way. Enrique has made his player believe they CAN win when playing at their best is not an option. This Never Say Die wins are not as usual because Barça still play damn good football most of the time, but these comeback victories were nonexistent a half-decade ago. They're part of the culture now.
2 - Leo Messi is a real leader
For the longest time, Messi has been considered the technical leader of the team, the best player in the world who commands the respect from his teammates simply because of his talents. While this is true, Leo showed against Valencia that he's an actual leader in the locker room, and after Luis Suárez' equalizer on Saturday, he put the team on his back and looked for a victory, always trying to involve his teammates and never giving up, which reflected on the rest of the squad. He made a fantastic play with his 'MSN' buddies that created a penalty, and he stepped up to the spot against the greatest penalty-kick stopper in La Liga history and easily put the shot away. Then, when the Valencia crowd threw objects at Neymar after the goal, he stood up for his teammate and friend.
All that while wearing the captain's armband. You're the boss, Lionel.
3 - Football won't be fun for the next two months
Please come back soon, Andrés Iniesta. This sport isn't nearly as exciting without your genius moves, dribbles and passes, and we can't expect Barça to play that well while you're in the sidelines. Go heal your knee and come back to awe us again, Maestro.
We love you.