Former Spain mid-fielder Luis Garcia feels it will be an uphill task for Barcelona to retain the La Liga title as arch-rivals Real Madrid are unlikely to slip up. Real Madrid are on the verge of clinching its first La Liga title in three seasons. The Los Blancos are currently holding the top spot and a point ahead of Barcelona with a game in hand” Also Read - Football: Former India And Mohun Bagan Player Manitombi Singh Dies
I’m crossing my fingers that Barcelona grab the top spot, (but it seems) quite difficult because Real Madrid looks very strong, very solid.” Garcia said during a La Liga virtual press conference. Also Read - Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo GOAT Debate: Twitterverse Weighs in After Barcelona Beat Napoli in Champions League | POSTS
“From Real Madrid’s perspective, yes (clear favourites to win the title) they are four points ahead which is a lot with only three (games) left. I don’t see them losing many games,” he added. Also Read - Barcelona Fans Celebrate After Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus, Real Madrid Get Knocked Out of Champions League | POSTS
Garcia, who spent one season at the Indian Super League side Atletico de Kolkata in 2014, said although Madrid have struggled since the return of football post the coronavirus- enforced break, they have been able to get the desired results.
“They struggled in a couple of games but they carried the momentum and got results. The key players have been Sergio Ramos and Benzema, from the back scoring goals,” Garcia said.
Meanwhile, Barcelona were dealt a blow after forward Antoine Griezmann suffered a muscle injury, ruling him out of the remainder of the La Liga campaign.
However, former Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute, who is a LaLiga Ambassador alongside Garcia, feels the absence of Griezmann won’t affect the Blaugrana.
“It’s okay, Barcelona is such a big and quality squad even if one player is missing it’s not a huge issue until maybe if it’s Messi. They have the talent in their squad,” he said.
The former Barcelona player echoed Kanoute’s views, adding that youngsters in the squad have fared well for the club.
“It’s only two more games and we all know how good he can be even though he has struggled these past few months. But Barcelona have players… Ansu Fati has been great, Riqui Puig has done well. They have plenty of players so they aren’t going to look back and feel Greizmann is not there,” Garcia said.
Asked if Barcelona have entered a transition phase with key players like Lionel Messi (33), Sergio Busquets (31), Luis Suarez (33) and Gerard Pique (33) over the age of 30, Garcia said the club is trying to move forward by embracing the young players in the team.
“When I signed for Barcelona in 2003 it was in the transition period, they had gone 4-5 years without winning a trophy, two years after they won everything.
“If you look at the squad they are trying to move forward to the new generation Riqui Puig, Ansu Fati, (Frenkie) de Jong and players who are adding so much quality, talent they will learn from the experience from the players around. The club is signing more players and bringing in the youth.
“So it could be a transition but if this year they win the LaLiga or the Champions League it wont be a transition year it’s only one if they don’t win anything. It won’t take long (to get over it) with the quality and talent in the squad,” he said.
Garcia added that the way Messi has adapted his style to the game, it has been impressive and the Argentine could probably play till 2025.
“The way he is playing, adapting his style to the game, is impressive. Every year he shows us something different but keeps up the same amount of goals, assists.
“Even getting more every year! He’s adapting, he doesn’t spend so much time up front because he knows it’s harder, so he drops a little more. He shows why he’s so intelligent. He adapts his game to what the team needs in every game. I could see him playing in 2025, easily!” he added.
(With Agency Inputs)