This article is part of Football FanCast’s Off the Bench series, which places in-game managerial decisions and squad selections under FFC’s microscope.
Barcelona’s big clash against Borussia Dortmund had many fans excited.
Of course, the beginning of the 2019/20 Champions League season is always an exciting time for any football fan but apart from the start of their big conquest in Europe, the Blaugrana also welcomed a familiar name back into the fold.
Lionel Messi has yet to feature in La Liga this campaign due to injury. For that reason, his cameo appearance at Signal Iduna Park in Germany was actually his first of the ongoing 2019/20 season.
The Argentine sustained a setback upon returning from his holidays over the summer but he finally made his first appearance of the campaign in Germany.
But for his standards, and probably according to what the world was expecting him to do, Messi didn’t exactly impress.
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In the 30 minutes he spent on the pitch of Signal Iduna Park, Messi registered one shot, two dribbles and no key passes on the night, which is a rather strange statistic to see next to his name.
Apart from that, the Argentine also tallied two unsuccessful touches and was dispossessed once, recording 81.8% passing accuracy with a total of 22 passes and 36 touches across the pitch.
Again, those are not bad stats nor do they suggest that Messi had an awful display. Far from it, but the standards he has set throughout the years went against him on this occasion.
The main thing, however, for Barcelona and Valverde, is the fact that Messi is indeed back and there is no doubt that once he starts gaining some necessary game time, he will only get better.
This clash was proof that even the best need some time to find their groove after a long injury.
Barca will be hoping Messi finds his form and well-known quality sooner rather than later but knowing him, that is only a matter of time.
And once he does, we all know what usually follows next.