Athletic Bilbao will be taking on Barcelona and Lionel Messi in the league match this weekend. Ahead of the match, Lionel Messi has come under increasing criticism for his below par performances in the last three outings for Barcelona. The Catalan club have lost the last three matches and as a result of also effectively out of three different competitions. The disastrous week for the club has been compounded by the reports about Messi being unhappy at the club. The 26-year-old has been regarded as the world’s best player for several years now.
He has now gone more than four matches without scoring, which is the worst run of form he has endured since 2011. More than scoring, his performances on the pitch have attracted a lot of criticism. This started in the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. Messi famously covered just a kilometre more than the goalkeeper Pinto. Manager Gerardo Martino had come to his rescue by saying that the club wanted to make Messi have less influence on the ball so that he does not become a target for the opposition.
Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde has also said that the criticism for Messi in the last few matches has been over the top.
“The thing is that Messi is asked to pull a rabbit out of the hat every game, when he is the most marked man of all, and that’s hard. He is not enjoying the form he had before, but he can unbalance a match at any time,” said the Bilbao manager. The 3-1 win over Real Betis is the only win Barcelona have got in the last five matches. Failure to win against Bilbao at home will effectively ended the slim title hopes that they have at the moment.