Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde admits his side are dependent on Lionel Messi – but insists that would be the case for any team with the Argentine in it.
Messi was only a substitute in Barcelona’s clash with Villarreal, rested as the season enters its crunch period, but was called upon to spark a dramatic late comeback at El Madrigal.
Trailing 4-2 as the game headed into injury time, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner struck a magnificent freekick to give Barca hope, before Luis Suarez equalised with the last kick of the game.
Messi has scored 42 goals in 39 games this season, and also added another 19 assists for the Catalans.
As such, claims of ‘Messidependence’ continue to follow Barcelona, something which Valverde chose to address after the eight-goal thriller.
“Of course there is ‘Messidependence’,” said Valverde. “It would exist in any team in the world, but when he is not there we also have to play and try to win.
“Leo is fundamental for us and marks the style, it is well known that he is the best in the world for something.”
The injury-time double ensured Barca gained a point and head into this weekend’s clash with Atletico Madrid with an eight point lead at the top of La Liga.
Valverde, whose side will be in Champions League action against Manchester United next week also, believes the clash at El Madrigal will also act as a wake-up call for the Blaugrana.
“It shows that the league is not won,” continued Valverde.
“I have the feeling that this match can help us a lot in the face of what is coming.
“It’s very big because we were losing and now we will face Saturday’s game with another sensation, of having come back from two goals in the last minutes.
“At the beginning we could even have made it 3-0 but they are a dangerous team and the game went out of control.
“Atletico is a rival who will never give up. We are not surprised and we will find this difficulty [against Villarreal] in all the remaining matches.”