opinions | 2015-05-14
The MSN Business
The special traits of the alpha attackers
Two weeks ago in a 6-0 victory vs Getafe at the Camp Nou, Barcelona's attacking trio broke the mark of a hundred goals this season. The La Liga contest was an exhibition of beautiful plays which gave the impression the result was more of a bet between players that knew they were going to win by a landslide. For fun, they decided to score only brilliant goals.
With the exception of the first, a Panenka penalty by Messi, the other goals were fruits of collective players worthy of applause.
But something stood out beyond the quantity and characteristics of the goals scored that evening in the Camp Nou. As the Catalans presented an interesting sequence of assists, it felt like they had arranged it in the dressing room, with niceties done and repaid. A carousel where the author of each goal was obligated to return the favor:
1-0: Penalty on Suárez, Messi goal
2-0: Messi assist, Suárez goal
3-0: Suárez assist, Neymar goal
4-0: Neymar assist, Xavi goal
5-0: Xavi assist, Suárez goal
6-0: Suárez assist, Messi goal
Xavi "interrupted" the party of what is now commonly called as the MSN trio, the attacking trident that gives Barcelona the opportunity to win three trophies this season. Last Tuesday, at Munich, both of the goals in the celebrated defeat to Bayern Munich were born from the Messi > Suárez > Neymar combination. They have amassed 114 goals in all competitions this season, with the most prolific trio of goalscorers in Spanish football history being Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema and Higuaín with 118 goals in the 2011/12 season.
As these three players dominate most of the attacking might of a single team, it's easy to ignore certain subtleties on matches that are as important as the amount of goals scored. But Suárez's smile is too evident.
Rewatch the celebration of both of Neymar's goals at the Allianz Arena. Suárez, the one that gave both assists, is the happiest.
At its highest level, professional football has turned the players into institutions. They are real business with brands, offices, employees, a budget with business and marketing planning. Combined with the natural ambition of an athlete, and the ever present ego, this "professional environment" has gotten in the way of many clubs that strived to reach the success as each of its individual players suggested.
A known example is Messi's reluctance to accept attackers that played in his position and/or participate actively in all attacking plays, like what happened with Ibrahimovic and David Villa.
However, in the Barcelona of today, it's crystal clear the good relationship between the three businesses of Messi, Neymar and Suárez. They are clients of each other.
It's obvious that certain statements in interviews are loaded with the artificial exaltation of their good relationship, even when considering that at some point in the relationship between Messi and Neymar, the willingness of the Brazilian to help Messi on the pitch was baffling. It's curious that now Messi is the one that assisted Neymar the most in his Barcelona career.
But what we see on the pitch this season is natural, fluid, and above all, extremely productive.
The symbiosis between the three "alpha forwards" has been impeccable, without any kind of territorial conflicts, like predators that understood if they hunt together, they can take down bigger prey.
We observe a Messi pulling the strings, articulating plays (he's by far the best passer), Neymar as the finisher, and Suárez with the ability to take on different roles according to the situation: cruel and merciless as witnessed at the Parc de Princes, and gentle and unselfish as we saw on Tuesday.
The key dilemma for opponents is that the trio is constantly changing positions and functions, as shown by the flow of goals and assists by each other. The fact that Lionel Messi is a football genius – at his best after a troubled year – adds an extra level of desperation to the task of containing Barcelona.
The genuine joy shown by Suárez must be causing chills.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
Column originally published on Lance in Brazilian Portuguese.
You can follow André on Twitter: @KfouriAndre.
WRITTEN BY: André Kfouri
Brazilian journalist, currently working with ESPN Brazil and the renowned Football Magazine Lance. André is one of Grup 14 partners, as we translate some of his articles to other languages.