The Spanish Clasico came and went and Barcelona claimed another victory against its all-time rival. As it’s happened in the last six years, Real Madrid was not able to steamroll the Cules with their strong and direct style, and Barça took 3 points that could be key in the title race of La Liga this season. More importantly, it was a defining moment for Lionel Messi.
Much has been said about Messi’s commitment to the team and whether or not the news about Neymar’s true earnings have hindered his performances with the Catalans. The fact that he was injured for over two months and traveled to Argentina to go through his rehab process did not help much, as not being present game after game only hurt his image.
After his comeback, the Argentine was a bit slow to get into the swing of things, and this coincided with perhaps the toughest games Barcelona has had to face.
SEE ALSO: 5 keys for Barcelona win in the Clasico
In the Copa del Rey match against Real Sociedad, he started to see some of the problems the team had run into. Physically and mentally, Martino’s men started to suffer a lot, and their defeats in La Liga against Real Sociedad –right after their matchup in the Cup– and ultimately Valladolid seemed to surely derail Barcelona off the right track this season.
The team had a breath of fresh air in the Champions League against Manchester City, with Messi starting to come out of his shell and scoring in both legs of the series, and then finally against Osasuna when the team won 7-0 and the Argentine scored a hat-trick.
Lionel Messi shined in the Clasico
And so, el Clasico was seen by both teams as the most decisive match of the year, as Real Madrid had the chance to put 7 points between themselves and Barcelona, and the Catalans could cut back the Merengues lead to just one point with a victory at the Bernabeu.
In great moments is when you see great players, and Lionel Messi did not miss the chance to remind everyone he is the best when push comes to shove.
He started out slow, pacing himself, but at the sixth minute he found Iniesta on the left of the Catalan attack and the Spanish international fired a left-footed rocket over Diego Lopez.
Real Madrid was quick to turn things around, and in just 5 minutes, they were already ahead on the scoreboard 1-2 thanks to Benzema’s brace.
But Messi hadn’t said the last word.
As both teams seemed to be ready to head to the locker room with 1-2 on the books, the Argentine grabbed a rebound in the area and scored with a near post shot.
A bad omen for Real Madrid
Things had started to look gloomy for the Madridistas. Not so much because of the temporary tie on the scoreboard –in fact Ronaldo would put things 3-2 soon after the start of the second half– but because the beast had been awakened.
In the last 45 minutes of the match Lionel Messi did what he does best: he stole the spotlight, became a giant in the middle, and scored another two goals to seal a hat-trick and turn things around for Barcelona.
The Argentine proved to the world he is back to his best shape and that the team can count on him when needed. Whatever debate there may be about el Clasico –referees mistakes or whatnot–, Messi made his presence felt at the Bernabeu, and he is now the top goalscorer in match ups between Real Madrid and Barcelona, surpassing legendary Alfredo Di Stefano with 21 goals in his career.
Messi has two more months to try to pull an amazing feat: win everything with Barcelona and then rock the World Cup with Argentina. This is a crucial year for the Argentine, and he wants to excel in every single game.