The Anoeta Curse is still alive after Barcelona tasted another defeat to Real Sociedad in the Basque Country. A terrible team performance coupled with a sensational defensive outing from La Real led to another disappointing loss, the second in the last four games in all competitions. Here is a few takeaways from what we saw on Saturday.
1. Lionel Messi's evil twin needs to go home
Messi is the best ever, and will always be. But even he deserves criticism. He was simply abysmal on Saturday, completely uninterested and limiting himself to some long balls over the top. Apart from a few minutes against Atlético Madrid, Leo has been way below his standards since returning from international break. I wonder if he is trying to hide some injury or knock -- he did take some nasty blows with Argentina -- or if he is just not up to it lately. The fact is his level has dropped, his effort is minimal, and the team is suffering from it. Hey, Real Messi: come back from Argentina, we need you.
2. Arda Turan is just not working
Arda has immense talent, skills, intelligence and fighting spirit. But he was built to dribble people, run like a mad man and keep hitting opponents in the legs. Unfortunately, that is not how Barcelona plays. He had two or three good games since making his debut, but more than three months of poor football goes beyond lack of fitness after six months not playing or a temporary struggle to adapt. It just didn't work. There is simply no place for him on the current tactical setup of the team. And as good as Arda is, he is not worth changing the whole system just to fit him better. The signing looked exciting at first, but now it's just painful. I really hope I'm wrong, but three months of pain tell me I'm not.
3. The league is wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide open
Four weeks ago, Barça held a 10-point gap at the top with 10 games to go. I was damn sure the league was over, and I kept telling you. Well, I was wrong. Atlético never went away, Madrid keeps destroying people at home and won El Clásico, and now everything is up for grabs. I still think we're winning it, but I'm not as confident or arrogant about it as I was. The form is bad, the main stars -- Suárez not included -- are also playing bad, and the two biggest rivals are right there. We just can't lose the league in the last six games after destroying it in the first 32. Please don't do this, guys.