Some people in the football media have been suggesting that the Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi was past his best and could no longer have the amazing ability to win a game on his own or produce the breathtaking football which has seen him become the most successful player ever with four Ballon D’Or awards to his name so far.
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Of course it will be a concern to Luis Enrique, his players and everyone concerned with FC Barcelona that the team suffered their first defeat of the season last night. And the French champions PSG will be hard to dislodge from the top of the Champions League group after their 3-2 win at the Parc des Princes, but it is by no means a disaster.
Recent media reports suggesting that the Barcelona and Argentina international Lionel Messi had lost his way and was not the same player that set that amazing scoring record a couple of years ago, seem to have been a bit premature, if not downright disrespectful and short sighted.
Messi proved his critics wrong once again on Saturday, bagging another brace to help Barcelona regain their place at the top of Spain’s La Liga table. He also provided two assists as Barca ran riot and beat Granada by 6-0 in front of the delighted Nou Camp crowd. Not only did little Leo make it five goals from six league games so far this season, but his first of the two goal made the remarkable record of 400 goals for club and country. And that does not even count the goals he scored for the Barca B team when he was a teenager breaking through.
With their two main La Liga rivals having a slow start, Barcelona were able to open up an early gap at the top of the Spanish league table. But it is very early days and nobody was getting too excited, because the performances were still a bit patchy and it was clear that the new manager Luis Enrique had plenty of work to do.
That was highlighted by the midweek game at Malaga. The Andalucians deserve a lot of credit for their draw, as they were very organised and worked tirelessly to close the Barca players down. And they forged the better chances, but the old Barcelona would have dominated the game more and created much more.
Not only did FC Barcelona move to within a single point of La Liga leaders Atletico and Real Madrid yesterday, they inflicted significant mental damage on their main rivals. According to a report by Mundo Deportivo, things could be about to get much worse for Real Madrid as well, with both Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos set to be investigated, and probably charged, for their comments about the match referee.
Barcelona have got one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after an exciting and hard fought game away to Manchester City ended in a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Dani Alves. But the night was spoiled somewhat by the City manager claiming that the referee was biased and had basically gifted the game to Barcelona.
It must be difficult being the manager of FC Barcelona. You do not get a lot of credit for winning, even when your players play brilliantly and score a hatful of goals. But one defeat and the club is in crisis, whether the defeat be a narrow or undeserved one or not.
Tata Martino has faced the Spanish press today ahead of the Copa Del Rey semi-final against Real Sociedad and as well as deflecting more questions about the Neymar transfer, he has had to field questions about the so-called crisis of losing to Valencia at the weekend.
The performance of Lionel Messi was one of the few positives to come out of the Barcelona vs Valencia game at the weekend. Not only did Barcelona lose at the Nou Camp for the first time this season, the defeat meant that the Spanish champions slipped off the top of La Liga for the first time in well o0ver a season.