Valverde makes shock decision to rest Messi
Who saw this one coming? Not me, that’s for sure. Yet Ernesto Valverde’s decision to rest Messi paid off and in hindsight it looks a good, and brave, decision.
There have been suggestions Messi has a niggle and whether that’s true or not, what is obvious is that Sunday’s game with Valencia is THE biggest game of the week.
Barca only needed a draw against Juve, and that’s what they got, they also now head to Valencia with a rested Messi and with Champions League qualification wrapped up.
Whether you like it or not, Valverde’s gamble paid off and with Messi now in his 30s, this is something we may see more of as the season progresses.
Barcelona struggling to score away from home in Europe
A draw in Turin against Juventus is a pretty good result, particularly when you think back to last season.
However, one thing that is worrying is Barcelona’s lack of goals on the road in Europe:
0-0 - Barcelona have recorded goalless draws in back-to-back games in Champions League for the first time ever. Strange. pic.twitter.com/vcQP2cMI33— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 22, 2017
Lionel Messi’s last goal away from home in the competition was last November, Luis Suarez hasn’t score on the road since March.
In fact, Barca’s only away goal in the competition so far came at Sporting and that was an own goal from Sebastian Coates. This is a stat that surely has to improve if Barca are to make any impression on this season’s tournament.
Barca’s stars are the defenders
Despite a run of 18 games without defeat, there’s still a lot of negativity from some sections of the support who have been spoilt rotten with years of glorious football.
We all know Barca are not playing spectacular football right now, but they are getting seriously impressive results.
The style may come, we hope so, but for now why can’t we at least celebrate that the club has some superstar defenders?
After all, keeping a clean sheet at Juventus is something that hasn’t happened too often recently.
34 - Juventus have failed to score tonight after 34 consecutive home games (all competitions) they had always found the net in. Break. #JuventusBarcellona— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) November 22, 2017
Lucas Digne hailed Marc-Andre ter Stegen as “the best goalkeeper in the world” after last night’s game and on current form you can understand his point.
Samuel Umtiti was brilliant again while Gerard Pique played well and they deserve appreciation, particularly at a time when there seems to be a shortage of truly top class defenders around.