BACK AND FORTH : SHOULD LEO REST OR KEEP GOING

We bring to you another Back and Forth series! Throughout the season, rumors and stories come and go. We constantly hear and read articles about players leaving, signing and retiring while others compare players, judge coaches, and debate who’s better.

Now Aly and Youssef are bringing these discussions to you. Both writers will share their views and opinions regarding a certain matter that has been widely discussed as of late. Meanwhile, you vote on who you agree with more and share your views in the comments. Shall we begin?

Should Leo rest or keep going?

Leo should rest

Murphy’s law states – Anything that could go wrong, will go wrong.

Top of the league, a place in the Cup final booked and onto the semi-finals of the Champions League. It all looks so good, doesn’t it? Except that, we’ve seen this many times before. A long, brutal season of fighting and treble dreaming inevitably leads to a few harsh defeats and a massive disappointment. Usually, one of the reasons of Barça’s past failures during this golden era has been the amount of workload they had to endure. They start fantastically but find themselves playing catch-up in one tournament or the other because of their fatigue levels.

This time, however, it’s slightly different. With a couple of big signings and a pile of good results, Barça now finds itself dreaming of the treble. The difference was Luis Enrique’s fitness management of the players. Almost every Barça fan reached a point back in mid-season where they were frustrated with Lucho’s inexplicable rotation policy. Now, culés realize how much all that rest has paid off at the home stretch of the 2018-19 season.

The last time Barça met Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League, Messi played one game and missed the other. At that time, Leo was struggling to find his form, fighting a niggling injury so that he could play the first leg. Leo ultimately suffered, as did Barça. And that’s not the first time Messi has fought an injury for a game, with the last clashes against Manchester City and Real Madrid also played with a knock.

However, Messi is fully fit at the moment. And a fully fit Leo is quite frightening. So imagine what a Leo wrapped in cotton wool could do. That’s the version we need against the Bundesliga champions. Because against Pep Guardiola, Leo needs to be in top form if he is to pull something new out of the hat against the man who made him the greatest player of all time.

So yes, Barça’s most important player should definitely rest against a relegation struggler like Córdoba. Especially when he’s the outfield player with the most minutes in the league. The last time Barça faced the Andalusians, the former won five nil with a double from Leo in the final eight minutes of the game. The time before that, Barça won by the same margin in the Copa del Rey during Tito Vilanova’s reign. Leo didn’t feature in that game, and he shouldn’t feature in it now either.

If Barça’s serious about winning the treble, then Lucho must be a cautious gambler. This is a crucial time of the season, with only crucial games left. So before deciding if he should gamble with Leo at Córdoba or not, one must first weigh the probabilities of the respective outcomes; and a healthy and rested Leo facing a determined Bayern Munich is definitely the safest bet.

Leo should keep going

“When you want to succeed as bad as you wanna breathe, then you will be successful!”

Great players hate sitting on the bench. They are too hungry to score goals and win games. Selfishness and pride is a good thing when it comes to sport; it makes the player put in that extra effort while the others stay behind. That is what makes them great. With the mouthwatering fixture against FC Bayern Munich just a couple of days away, Messi needs to be in the best form possible to take FC Barcelona through. So while some fans believe that resting him against Córdoba will make the difference, I would have to disagree.

Messi plays his best football when he is playing every match. When there is continuity in his game, he produces his best displays. When Pep Guardiola was coach, Messi was always playing and never looked tired because it is not about how much he rests, it is about how hungry he is. Messi usually walks around the field, looking for spaces and studying the defenders’ positioning, but the second he gets the ball and sees an opportunity, he is away.

The Argentine was at a nadir during his last injury and even though he took months of rest, he came back a changed and more conservative player. However, since the arrival of Lucho, Messi is back to his best again despite not being rested at all. Extraordinary players like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would rather give it they’re all on the field and worry later than prevent an injury by staying on the bench. Their continuity is what has made this rivalry possibly the greatest in football history. They are always pushing each other to the limit.  

The boss can rest Neymar Jr. or Luis Suarez to preserve them for the Bayern clash but not Messi. Resting him at such a crucial juncture might yield a negative outcome. If he has a knock, then, of course, he should rest but if he is perfectly fit, it is better to keep him that way. Scoring goals against Córdoba will boost his confidence ahead of the Champions League clash. Leo is a professional player and he knows how to manage his fitness on the field, and that is why he chooses his runs and calculates his attacks before bursting into the opposition defense. And then, of course, there is the Pichichi at stake.