Prior to this weekend, Barcelona sat atop of La Liga, had topped their group to make the Round of 16 of the Champions League, and in the week sealed their comfortable progress into the next round of the Copa del Rey. Yet, all is not running smoothly at the Camp Nou.
The latest issue concerns Lionel Messi, who has hit back at claims from Barcelona vice president Javier Faus that the Argentina star wants an improved contract. Faus said he saw no reason why the club should have to renew Messi’s contract every six months. Messi’s response did not pull any punches.
"Mr. Faus knows nothing about football and wants to run Barcelona like a business, which it's not," he told Catalan radio station RAC 1, according to ESPN. "Barcelona is the best club in the world and it should be run by the best directors in the world.
"Neither I nor any of my representatives have asked for an improved contract. The truth is that I'm focused on my recovery and not thinking about anything else."
Messi, of course, will not feature against Getafe on Saturday as he continues his recovery from injury. His comments, though, perhaps reflect a greater problem in the running of the club. President Sandro Rosell is facing fresh allegations of financial impropriety, including questions over Neymar’s transfer in the summer.
On the pitch, the club’s playing philosophy, which was once enshrined from the very top, is now far less clear than in the days of Pep Guardiola. Manager Tata Martino has taken much of the criticism for that, despite the positive results. An Argentinean journalist even claimed this week that Martino had told an acquaintance that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season due to his not having complete control over training.
Atletico Madrid’s victory over Saturday means that Barcelona will need to pick up the three points at Getafe in order to end the year on top of La Liga. They arrive at the contest having recovered from losing two matches on the bounce recently to claim three straight wins. Crucial to that run has been Neymar, who has taken over the responsibility from Messi admirably and scored six goals in those three wins.
It is a significant blow then that Barcelona will have to negotiate the match at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez without the Brazilian, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in last weekend’s victory over Villarreal. Midfielder Xavi has been left at home alongside Carles Puyol, but Dani Alves could return to the squad after missing more than a month with injury.
Barcelona will meet a Getafe side that sit in a respectable eighth place in La Liga, yet who have won once in their last five outings in the league. They did, though, record a 4-1 victory over Girona on Tuesday to safely progress to the last 16 of the Copa del Rey where, as coincidence would have it, they will meet Barcelona.
Where to watch: The Spanish Primera Division contest will kick off at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport, with a live stream available on beIN Sport Play.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.