Just when you think he can’t possibly get any better, Lionel Messi transcends expectations and sets another milestone. The Argentine earned his 50th career hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-2 win over Sevilla and brought his goal tally to 650.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has only failed to score in one Liga game in 2019 and he leads Europes top 5 league for assists, with 11.
Even Marca, the Madrid-based sports newspaper had to begrudgingly admit that Messi is peerless right now, saying: “Nobody comes close and he has no equal, either in Spain or anywhere else in Europe.”
Messi is very important to Barca, but what would they be like without him?
Well, surprisingly, the stats suggest they might be OK… When the Argentine was injured for three weeks in October, Barca confidently beat Inter Milan in the Champions League, they came back from behind to beat Rayo Vallecano and they destroyed Real Madrid 5-1 in the Clasico. In Messi’s first game back, they lost 4-3 at home to Real Betis.
His goals have directly earned either a win or a draw on five occasions this season, for a total of 11 points. So, without those points, the Blaugrana would be in third position in the Liga, one point ahead of Real Madrid and four behind Atletico Madrid.
And in the Champions League, his group stage goals directly earned four points—so without those contributions, they still would have gone through in second place, but would have faced Dortmund in the knockout rounds instead of Lyon.
And according to stats compiled by Spanish newspaper AS at the beginning of the season, Barca actually have a 4% better win rate without him in the team… although this figure might be skewed as they tend to rest him in games against against lesser opposition, particularly in the early rounds of the Copa Del Rey.
But these numbers only real tell part of the story: his presence lifts the team and gives the entire side belief they can win. And at a time when Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Ousame Dembele have all been criticized for dropping in form, it goes without saying that Barca would be much, much less potent without Messi assisting and creating chances.
Sp, how good would Barcelona be without Messi? Perhaps the simplest answer is: they’d be as good as Real Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo.
Los Blancos have sorely missed their talisman this season and have seen a decline in form and league points since he left. And seeing as Barca would only have one point more than Real without his goals, this comparison seems pretty legitimate.
Barcelona would get by and still be competitive without Messi, but they’d be missing that X factor that really elevates them to the next level.