Barcelona are more dependent on Messi than ever – Schuster

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Barcelona are more dependent on Lionel Messi than they have ever been, according to Bernd Schuster.

After surrendering their advantage at the top of LaLiga and losing out on the title to arch-rivals Real Madrid, Messi ensured Barca did not suffer further disappointment in the Champions League.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner scored a tremendous solo goal in the last-16 second leg against Napoli last Saturday, while he had another seemingly legitimate goal ruled out by VAR.

Messi's effort helped Barca to a 3-1 victory at Camp Nou, setting up a quarter-final date with Bayern Munich in Lisbon.

Former Barca midfielder Schuster has been unimpressed by the team's displays, claiming they have never been more reliant on Messi than they are under Quique Setien.

"If you compare the two teams, Bayern have the full squad and are more complete on the pitch. That's because Barcelona are more dependent on Messi this season than they have ever been," Schuster told Bild.

"There used to be players like Neymar and [Andres] Iniesta alongside him, but after that they couldn't bring in any world-class players.

"It has to be said Messi can still win games on his own. He has the quality to score goals against Bayern and decide the game on his own.

"You have to say that [Messi can beat Bayern]. There are only two options for Barcelona this season: either Messi scores the goal or they have a world-class day in the game without the ball."

Bayern will need to overcome Barca to keep their treble hopes alive, having already won the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal.

Assessing the chances of success in Portugal for Hansi Flick's team, Schuster added: "The way they have played so far and won the championship, they are one of the favourites for me."

Schuster also considers Atletico Madrid, another of his former clubs, to be serious contenders for the title.

Atleti reached the Champions League final in 2014 and 2016 and he expects them to be able to exploit RB Leipzig's lack of experience in European competition and the absence of Timo Werner, who left to join Chelsea, when they meet in the last eight on Thursday.

"The final is definitely a step too far, but what they have achieved so far is excellent," Schuster said of Leipzig.

"You have to see what a young and sometimes inexperienced team they have – and that is at the Champions League level.

"Atletico are regulars who have been playing at the top level for years, and have been in the final twice.

"Leipzig also have the disadvantage of having lost Timo Werner."