Barcelona’s Messi-dependencia

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2018-2019 was a curious season for FC Barcelona. The club lost yet another knockout tie in the coveted UEFA Champions League, this time a soul-crushing 0-4 loss in the return leg to eventual champion Liverpool FC.The psychologically deflated team then folded against Valencia FC in the Copa del Rey final, a crown that Barca had owned for years.But the team thoroughly dominated La Liga, cruising to win its 10th title in 15 years, a daunting feat considering its rivalry with the other Spanish behemoth Real Madrid. It is not a coincidence that these 15 years have featured the services of inarguably the world’s best footballer – Lionel Messi.Messi is now 32, but he still lives up to what the writer Michael Cox once called him – a combination of three world-class players: the ace dribbler, the precise passer and the decisive poacher. In 2018-19, the pint-sized genius was his usual, efficient self – scoring, creating, dribbling, passing and leading by example.Statistics bear these out quite well. Messi scored the most goals (36) and had the highest ratio of goals and assists per 90 minutes in all four major leagues in Europe – 1.63, way ahead of the next best, Napoli’s Dries Mertens (1.08).Among players who featured in at least 30 games, only Soufiane Boufal of Celta Vigo had more dribbles per 90 minutes (6.2) than Messi (4.4). Including the Champions League and Copa del Rey, Messi scored an astoun

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