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Can Barcelona’s Front Three Be Stopped?

As Barcelona set their sights on the treble, the most potent forward line in the world spearheading it, Can Barcelona's Front Three be Stopped?

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar: three names who strike fear into the world of football. On Tuesday night, an unfortunate Getafe side were unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of arguably the greatest forward line in football, after 28 minutes the full effect of the deadly trio was clear for all  to see.

Firstly, a cheeky Messi panenka penalty saw Getafe keeper Guaita left blushing, then Luis Suarez produced a brilliant volley after a through ball from Messi and finally Neymar managed to produce a fake shot, fool his defender and slot away convincingly. The goal by Neymar meant that collectively the three players had now scored 100 goals between them, beating the 2008-2009 record set by Messi himself, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o – not a bad trio in their own right.

Can Barcelona’s Front Three Be Stopped?

As well as this, the three players managed to help out one another for these three goals too, Suarez won the penalty for Messi to cooly convert, Messi produced a truly stunning ball to return the favour for Suarez, then Suarez found Neymar for the third goal. Neymar, not wanting to be left out also managed to find Xavi a couple of minutes later, although almost all of the credit belongs to the Spaniard for a magnificent strike. In fact, for all six goals, each player who scored then went onto assist the next goal in a quite remarkable chain of events. It just goes to show the desire and selflessness of these great players to continue providing for their team after scoring.

The stats (all competitions):

Lionel Messi (age 27):

Appearances: 49
Goals: 49
Assists: 26

Neymar (age 23):

Appearances: 43
Goals: 32
Asissts: 6

Luis Suarez (age 28):

Appearances: 37
Goals: 21
Assists: 17

With all three still being the right side of 30, the question now is who can possibly stop them, if anyone? Barcelona have the La Liga title, Champions Leagues and Copa Del Ray all firmly set in their sight. In the Champions League, Bayern Munich will provide one of Barcelona’s biggest tests yet, having already been crowned Bundesliga champions. Bayern Munich did show a slight sign of weakness on Tuesday night, losing to Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal Semifinal and they managed to miss all four of their penalties in the shootout too. If they are able to surpass Bayern, an El Clasico final could still be on the cards and after a marginal 2-1 victory after the two sides last meeting the chance for the Barcelona trio to prove their dominance may very well continue to be exemplified in Europe as well as their domestic league too.

It would be cruel to forget the support behind this incredible strike force. Against Getafe, the 35 year old Xavi was outstanding, as he has been on countless occasions in his career at Barcelona. Players like Xavi only increase the effect of their fellow great players, Barcelona’s ability to hold onto the ball and push the opposition back into their own half undeniably makes Messi and his two forward partners have a great deal more space and attacking potential to exploit. With Messi and Suarez very much in their prime, and Neymar still only 23, the potential to dominate world football is clear to see. Once at Barcelona, these great players simply don’t have a reason to leave, meaning they develop together and learn the tendencies and qualities of their teammates – an extremely valuable asset in modern football.

Critics may argue that Messi in particular needs to prove himself for Argentina, despite still averaging a goal every other game and nearly amounting 100 caps aged 27. To pick out these kinds of weaknesses in the individual players is entirely irrelevant anyway, as a trio their ability to play together is now unquestionable and the sceptics at the start of the season have now must surely been convinced. Barcelona’s “MSN trident” still have it all to play for this season though, Madrid are always just around the corner waiting for a slip up in La Liga.

Barcelona’s last 4 fixtures:

May 2nd – Córdoba Vs Barcelona

May 9th – Barcelona Vs Real Sociedad

May 17th – Atlético Madrid Vs Barcelona

May 24th – Barcelona Vs Deportivo

A brief glance over the last four fixtures leaves one obvious, most challenging hurdle to overcome – reigning champions Atlético Madrid. After snatching the title at Bareclona on the last day of the 2013-2014 season, the Catalans will be extremely wary of the potential Atlético pose to unwind what could still be a perfect season.

It’s still hard to see past the brilliance of the front line in these remaining four games, if Messi has an incredibly rare off game, Luis Suarez and Neymar themselves have more than enough individual quality to see off nearly any opponent. Barca’s La Liga title may still be undecided at this point, but the quality of Neymar, Messi and Suarez accompanied by an incredibly strong team will surely be enough to see them through.

In terms of the potential longevity of their dominance, it’s worth remembering that Barcelona have a habit of producing quality. With the particularly noticeable performance against Getafe, Xavi when taken off was given a standing ovation with some fans urging him to stay as opposed to leaving to Qatari club Al Sadd in the summer. As painful of a loss as he will be, Barcelona will be left in safe hands. The sheer work rate of this increasingly successful ‘trident’ is highly noticeable. It’s a simple philosophy, but not one that all players can always stay loyal to: if you lose the ball, don’t stop running until you win it back. Barcelona, from the attackers backwards, do this for the full 90 minutes and leave oppositions with little chance to get into the game at all.

As well as this the professional nature is clear to see. At 5-0 up against Getafe, Messi played Adriano through, who marginally missed. Messi himself had something of a grimace on his face after the move, clearly pondering if he had taken the right option. If at 5-0, inside the first half, a player challenges himself with this level of self-scrutiny, it demonstrates well the innate desire for success and to achieve the pinnacle of your game, something that will be essential for continued success for Barcelona and their deadly front three.

Between now and the end of the season there are still a few significant tests before Barcelona have any chance of an ambitious treble-winning season. It’s unlikely they will be seen as “tests” by the team and in particular three such in form players, perhaps simply the remaining games will be seen as yet more opportunities to showcase the incredible football this Barcelona side is capable of. Whilst it still remains hotly debated if this is the best forward line in football history, one way to help give something of a conclusion to the debate is certainly trophies. Only one question remains for the Barcelona trio now – can anyone stop them? For now, the answer remains a resounding no.


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