Advantage Barcelona in their Champions league semi final clash with Bayern Munich. Pep Guardiola’s side arrived carrying several injuries to key players but optimistic of progressing to the final in Berlin on June 6th. For Pep it was a special night, returning to the club that he made his name as a player and then as a manager, the latter being a period of history recognized as one of Barcelona’s finest hours. But against the team that he worked so hard to build, with a few small additions from Geraldo Martino and now Luis Enrique, Barcelona proved too good for the visiting German Champions. The score line at the end of ninety thrilling minutes read 3-0 to Barcelona but in truth it could have been more. Barcelona were unstoppable with Leo Messi in particularly dazzling form. His two goals plus assist in Barcelona’s third goal of the night puts Barcelona in a commanding position heading into the return leg in Munich next week. Pep must be wondering how he can turn this around and more importantly stop the player who helped him to numerous titles during his time at the Nou Camp – Leo Messi.
The little Argentine probably had one of his best games in a Barcelona shirt for some time. He has been in fantastic form this season, combining well in a new look front three alongside Luis Suarez and Neymar. The trio have scored 111 goals between them in all competitions with Messi racking up fifty three of them so far. With three games left in the league, the Copa Del Rey final and potentially two more in the Champions League if Barcelona can reach the final, the chances of Messi beating his season best tally of 73 goals look fairly unlikely but that will matter not to the player. Having notched ten goals in the last nine games, Messi is lethal in front of goal at the moment which showed last night against Bayern. His first goal; a long range effort with his left foot that bounced perfectly in front of the diving Manuel Neuer was only a taste of what was to come. The follow up would be far better and would highlight just how good Messi really is. Collecting a threaded defense splitting pass from Ivan Rakitic, who himself had a great game Messi drove in on goal from the right hand side of the pitch. World Cup winning defender Jerome Boateng tracked his run and as the pair entered the box, it looked as though the former Manchester City centre back had nullified the threat. But Messi had different ideas, twisting his body one way then the other, the ball glued to his feet at all times eventually leaving Boateng laid out on the floor in such an embarrassing way that it spawned a million meme’s on social media. Now in the box with only the onrushing Neuer to beat, Messi simply lifted the ball over the diving keeper and into the net for Barca’s second. His angled pass to Neymar deep into injury time only added icing to the cake as the Brazilian raced into the box and shot under Neuer for Barcelona’s third of the night.
In this sort of form, it’s hard to see how exactly Messi’s former boss Guardiola will stop him in the return league. His current manager Luis Enrique praised the Argentine striker saying that he was “a player from another dimension” and it’s hard to argue with that. Former Barca striker Patrick Kluivert back up Enrique’s praise by saying “He really is from a different planet, even if you are supporting another team you have to admit this” whilst former England striker Gary Lineker simply said that he was such a joy to watch. Even his own teammates were quick to praise his performance after the match with Gerard Pique insisting that when Messi is inspired, no one can stop him. Even Andreas Iniesta, who has had his fair share of magical performances over the years, was left speechless by the performance of Messi last night. As usual the man himself gave no comment after the game, instead deciding to focus on the challenges ahead. Reaching his fourth Champions League final and securing the La Liga title and Copa Del Rey title are the only things on Messi’s mind at the moment. Winning is the only option for the little Argentine maestro and few would be against him getting the trophies he wants this season based on the form he is currently in.
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