In the hit 1980’s cartoon series Voltron: Defender of The Universe, there was a recurring theme each episode. The bad guys (led by evil King Zarkon, his son Lotor and the witch Haggar) would attempt to take over the good planet Arus. Haggar would always create a super monster, the Robeast, to terrorise the good people of Arus, and every time it would be up to super robot, Voltron, to save the day. Voltron was made up of five separate lions, and individually they would try and fight the Robeast but would have little success. Like all good cartoons of that era, the morale of the story was that the five lions had to combine to form Voltron and only then would they succeed.
In the Champions League game second leg tie between Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, the five lions of Barcelona were up against the mighty Robeast of PSG. The only problem was that one of the most important lions, the yellow one that controls the left leg of Barcelona, was injured and not included in the starting lineup. The evil king Ancelotti rubbed his hands with glee and unleashed the Robeast of Zlatan, Lavezzi and Lucas Moura against the lightweight and makeshift Barcelona defence that included Adriano playing at centre back.
For approximately 60 minutes, the remaining four lions of Barcelona huffed and puffed their way against the might of PSG. Indeed, it was PSG who took the lead in the 50th minute through Javier Pastore following a clinical counter attack.
Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova had seen enough and turned to his yellow lion to attempt to save the day. The introduction of Lionel Messi in the 62nd minute for Cesc Fabregas injected much needed dynamism and energy into the Barcelona attack. The equaliser soon came from Pedro Rodriguez after some neat interplay between Messi and David Villa.
The Catalan team rearranged the five individual lions into Voltron, formed the blazing sword and the Robeast was killed, until the next episode.
It would certainly appear that Barcelona have a case of “Messidependencia” – the team failed to muster a single shot on target before Messi’s introduction.
So, what is the morale of the story here? Barcelona, like Voltron, need all five lions fit and ready to go if they are to succeed.