Lionel Messi has made a banging and much needed return for Barcelona. The Blaugrana are currently second in La Liga just two points behind leaders Real Madrid. It’s fair to say that had Messi been fit and available for earlier games, they might well have been leading the table rather than trailing Los Blancos.
In a Champions League match that was forecast to vie with the Tottenham vs Bayern Munich game for clash of the week, Messi managed a full 90 minutes, against Inter Milan. I Nerazzurri are second in Serie A just one point behind Juventus. In the battle of the two second-placers, Barcelona came out on top – and why? Yes, because of that man – Lionel Messi.
He didn’t manage to get on the 2-1 score sheet himself, and he was -clearly not 100% match-fit. However, it was his brilliant assist that laid on the second goal for the 32-year-old Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.
Barca’s manager, Ernesto Valverde, summed Messi’s performance. He said it was the first time this season that the Argentinian had played the full 90 minutes and he tired towards the end. It was not surprising bearing in mind that Messi was not able to take part in the pre-season warm-up that his teammates had undergone.
Nonetheless, Valverde went on to say the in any play situation, Messi is a great help – even when fatigue sets in.
In the following weekend La Liga match against Sevilla at the Bernabéu, Messi netted his first goal of the season, and what a goal. A superbly taken free-kick that curled past both the keeper and a defender stationed on the goal line.
But that was not all. A few minutes before his excellent goal, Messi showed why he is so highly rated.
He set off on one of his mesmerising dribbles going from right to left before unleashing a low shot. Had it not been for Sevilla’s goalkeeper, Vaclik, managing to get a hand to it to deflect the ball wide, it would have been another unbelievable individual goal from the master.
Barca’s 4-0 victory saw the Blaugrana climb to second in Liga behind their old rivals Real Madrid. For Sevilla, who not long ago were riding high atop of the La Liga table, they dropped down to sixth.
Messi has clearly made a statement in his last two games. I am back and I am ready to lead my team to victory in both La Liga and the Champions League. Of course, it is to be hoped that the 32-year-old Argentinian striker is back for good. He has never missed so many opening matches in La Liga before, and he was sorely missed.
At 32-years-of-age though, the Argentinian is approaching the end of his career. He will be prone to more injuries, and that could be telling. Let’s just hope he can keep fit and keep Barcelona challenging for more silverware.