‘Messi carrying Barcelona’s whole team on his shoulders’ – Edmilson sees Blaugrana suffering ‘shady moment’

Lionel Messi Barcelona Liverpool
The ex-Brazil international is expecting a tough test for his former club when they face Napoli in the second leg of a Champions League last-16 tie

Lionel Messi has been carrying Barcelona’s “whole team on his shoulders”, claims Edmilson, with the Liga giants considered to be “experiencing a shady moment”.

Uncharacteristic struggles for consistency from the Camp Nou heavyweights have contributed to a domestic crown being snatched from their grasp by arch-rivals Real Madrid.

The decision to part with Ernesto Valverde in January and replace him with Quique Setien has been made to look like a questionable call, with there a very real threat that Barca could end the 2019-20 campaign empty-handed.

They are still in the hunt for Champions League success as things stand, but have a tricky last-16 encounter with Napoli to navigate before dreams of European glory can be formed.

Italian rivals are due in Catalunya on Saturday for the second leg of a contest that is currently locked at 1-1.

Edmilson admits that picking a winner from that tie is a tough task, with Barca becoming far too reliant on talismanic captain Messi.

The former Blaugrana midfielder told Radio Kiss Kiss: “On Saturday a Champions League match will be played after a long time and the qualification is open for both teams because playing in a situation like this where there are no fans, I believe Napoli can go to Barcelona and take their chances.

“[Gennaro] Gattuso’s team must continue to play as they have been doing and not be afraid of Barca, because the Blaugrana won’t be scared.

“After the pandemic the league was fraught with difficulty, but they are still Barcelona. They are playing at home and they are always favourites.

“Barca are, however, experiencing a shady moment. A moment where Messi is practically playing alone and loading the whole team on his shoulders.

“They have also changed their coach during the current season.”

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Since competitive football resumed on the back of a coronavirus-enforced break, Barca have found the going tough.

From 11 outings in la Liga, they only managed to claim seven victories – with three of those coming by the odd goal.

Messi has conceded that they will need to raise their game considerably in order to challenge for the Champions League crown, with the latter stages of that competition set to take place in Portugal once the round of 16 has been played to a finish.