The sound of chattering teeth and nail nibbling from the direction of Camp Nou is audible at news.bwin.com/en/ HQ in the wake of news that Barcelona’s Lionel Messi will be out of action for two months.
While the Cules are right to be fearful on the European front, domestic matters should be far from decimated by the hobbling of their lucky charm and they can still be backed at 3/10 to overcome a -1 handicap in beating Granada in their next home game, just as they’ve done in the past two renewals.
A Messi-less Barcelona haven’t lost a domestic match since the 2010 Spanish Super Cup first leg.
The Catalans have run over 18 of the 22 opponents they’ve played without the boy from Rosario in Spanish competition since losing 3-1 to Sevilla at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, drawing just four times across the last three and a bit campaigns.
Only six Spanish games are likely to elapse between now and the return of the mack which, luckily for his manager and teammates, should coincide with a visit to Atletico Madrid in Barcelona’s next stern domestic test.
Barca won 71 per cent of the games the Argentinean started in 2012/13 and 69 per cent of those he didn’t.
The presence of the great man was of little consequence when it came to Los Cules’ overall win/draw/loss stats last season.
Of far more importance was Javier Mascherano, without whom Barcelona won a mere 58 per cent of their fixtures, drawing 21 per cent of the games and losing the same percentage.
Conversely when Messi’s fellow Argentinean international was started Barca won a huge 80 per cent of their outings.
However the Blaugrana failed to win a Champions League match in which Messi didn’t start last term.
While domestic concerns may have been plain sailing international waters were far more choppy without the miniature maestro last term, as Barca registered just one goal across meetings with Benfica, PSG and Bayern Munich.