Barcelona and Messi can be Top Dogs in Spain but not Europe

Barcelona 2015/16 season and how it will pan out

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Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have shared top scoring honours over the last five years but Messi looks better placed to top the scoring charts this time and is a top price of 11/10 (2.1) with leading Irish bookmakers Paddy Power to do so again this coming season. You can find updated Paddy Power promotion details here!

Barcelona are the champions of Europe but teams from the English Premier League will soon have a financial advantage although of course Barca do have the monetary clout thanks to record breaking levels of income. It helps that they have a stadium with a capacity of almost 100,000 though Camp Nou is rarely full for home matches.

El Classico is always a sell out but tourists can often buy tickets for the more mundane fixtures though and even these matches attract more than 70,000 fans. Merchandising and TV money all contribute to the earnings of one of the richest clubs in the world that is getting richer.

There is a direct correlation between a club’s wage bill and their performance on the field. Barcelona can afford to employ the best player in the world and keep him happy when he receives his wage slip. Despite English clubs getting wealthier from television money the Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu does not believe even a club like Manchester United can tempt Messi away: “Ha,no,no,no” he says. The player himself is unlikely to forgo the delights of Las Ramblas for the Manchester Ship Canal.

Lionel Messi is the all time record scorer in La Liga with 286 goals in 315 matches as at the end of last season. Ronaldo is 61 goals behind but his strike rate is 1.12 goals per match while Messi comes in at a measly 0.90. In the last five seasons the Portugese player has scored the most goals in Spain three times and finished second to Messi twice. In each of those seasons the top scorer has netted on average more than once per game.

Madrid’s close season has been dominated by which players will leave and if you were to believe various rumours in the press Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos will be playing for Manchester United this season, all arriving in an exchange deal involving David De Gea. One minor detail appears to be overlooked in that Louis Van Gaal is a former manager of Barcelona so is unlikely to get any favours from the Real Madrid hierarchy.

Man Utd are one of the English clubs that will soon be in a stronger financial position and the Barcelona president identifies that their money allied to good coaching can see them become a factor in the Champions League. He has said: “We know their coach very well. He was also the coach of our team and we know how strong, intelligent and clever he is, how he gets the best from his players, and because of this I think United are going to be one of the top clubs this year.”

It has become something of a cliché but no team has yet been champions of Europe two years running in the Champions League era. Barcelona won the treble last season but coach Luis Enrique will be looking to strengthen the squad. Last year was one of the best in the club’s history and they are working with same squad but bringing in more players to make them even more competitive. It’s a frightening thought that Luis Suarez and Neymar could get better and it looks like Messi is not going anywhere.

Van Gaal was the coach that first put Xavi in the Barcelona team. The veteran of 767 matches for the club has now left and there is no doubt will me missed. He is one of only eight players to have made more than 500 appearances in La Liga. However, Andreas Iniesta is still as good as ever and the Barcelona youth academy will soon be producing half a dozen Xavi clones.

These factors all add up to a scenario in which Barcelona can win La Liga again with Messi top scoring but coming up short in the Champions League.

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    Senad Trtak
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