The turning point of Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Arsenal came in the 70th minute of the match, Suarez to Neymar to Messi and inevitably to the back of the net.
A swift move that not only put Barcelona well on their way to yet another quarter-final but showed just how good these front three are and why everybody is raving about them.
A goal eluded Barca for so long but at no point was there ever a thought that maybe Arsenal could hold out. Messi despite not creating any concrete chances was an ever-present on the ball, Neymar had a few cameo appearances that threatened the defence, and Suarez lurked dangerously in the box of a stadium he could well have joined a year before moving to Spain.
At times it seemed the three were too eager to pass the ball; there was an occasion Messi fed the ball through to Neymar who stalled on the ball passing it to Suarez instead who hit the post, and that would have made it 2-0.
Although they did score the second in the end through a Messi penalty, it could well have been more, but that’s what makes these three so great. Instead of going for glory every time they are more than willing to give their mate the chance to add to his tally.
Indeed, these players are not afraid to take their chances when they come – Suarez is La Liga’s top scorer with 25 goals and he has 39 in all competitions. Neymar has 18 goals domestically, 23 altogether.
Messi, who missed a chunk of the season through injury, has 15 league goals and 29 in 31 games in all competitions for the Catalan’s.
Their goal scoring is undoubted but their setting up of one another is maybe underappreciated. Suarez is not only the league’s top scorer but he is also top of the assist chart on ten. One behind him is Neymar and two further back on seven is Messi.
No piece of play summed up the selflessness of the players than the Cruyff penalty, Messi’s pass to Suarez was audacious to say the least but in sacrificing his own goal chance to give his teammate a hat-trick he showed his willingness to be part of the team.
In fact that penalty goes down as a miss for Lionel Messi despite the finished product.
Not many players would think of doing such a thing, one who would most definitely not is Cristiano Ronaldo as the Portuguese star is not renowned for his selfless behaviour that is maybe hindering his club.
Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo is potentially an irresistible force; the directness of each of the players is frightening but they will never hit the heights that their counterparts in Barcelona are hitting.
It comes down to the simple fact they are too selfish. Ronaldo has 22 goals in the league and in fairness to him has set up a teammate on eight occasions but how often does he look to pass unless he is really stuck?
How many times have we seen a picture of Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo celebrating together? Not very often in truth. Ronaldo was clear in a recent interview when he told reporters he doesn’t need to be best friends with them to play with them.
“It’s not necessary to go out eating with Bale, what matters is when you are on the field. What happens off it doesn’t count, it matters that we are a team on it,” he said.
He is correct, one does not need to be best friends with his attacking partners but, as we have seen with Messi, Suarez and Neymar, it certainly helps to have a good relationship with each other.
After every goal the trio score they tend to celebrate together, their facial expressions and apparent liking of each other is something football fans like to see and is a stark contrast to when Ronaldo looks disappointed Bale scored instead of him.
All round they are a perfect attacking unit and are well and truly cementing themselves as the best there ever was.
Suarez’s hard work and persistence, the flash and guile of Neymar and the brilliance of Ballon d’Or winner Messi make for a great team and a team that under Luis Enrique is potentially ready to hit heights even Guardiola’s Barca team couldn’t reach.
When he first joined the club, Neymar was seen as maybe being too selfish; he was criticised for trying to get too much out of the ball and ultimately ruining attacks but this season you can see a change.
Neymar has attempted 957 passes in La Liga according to Fox Sports, more than any other forward in the league. Messi has made 822 and is also in the top 50, while there is no place for Suarez or any of Madrid’s front three.
We are still treated to the magical piece of skill now and then; just think of how many times he dribbled past Arsenal men with ease on Tuesday night. He has just become a better player and Barcelona are benefitting greatly from it.
With many rounds to go in the Champions League it would be foolish to say one team is bound to win it but it is clear from all the indications so far that it is going to take an immaculate performance by any team to stop Luis Enrique and this front three from claiming back-t0-back titles.