Lionel Messi confirms his status as the GOAT against Tottenham Hotspur
Barcelona travelled to London to face Tottenham Hotspur in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday. Barcelona were enduring tough times recently, first losing to Leganes last week and then drawing with Athletic Bilbao during the weekend.
Messi had started from the bench for the game at the weekend, but the Argentinean had to come on in the second half to conjure a draw for the Catalans, assisting the 84th-minute equalizer. The mood at Barcelona, as such, was a little down – they had to secure all 3 points at London to make things better. Spurs, on the other hand, were on the rise.
Since losing to Liverpool, Tottenham had won all 3 of their matches, which included a win via penalties over Watford in the Carabao Cup. Pochettino was wary of the danger Barcelona possessed, especially, the genius of his countryman in the opposition and as such, this was not going to be an easy outing for Barcelona. But the Catalans did have one unfair advantage even in their away match – Lionel Messi.
The Barcelona Superstar had already started the season with a bang, scoring 8 goals in 9 games before the tie against Spurs. That included 5 goals in the La Liga and most importantly, a hattrick against PSV in the last Champions League game. Messi also had 5 assists to his name so far, so he had been directly involved in 13 goals already in his 9 games. And in just the second minute of the game, Messi had shown the world just why he is so widely feared by the opposition.
Messi received the ball at the centre of the park and drilled a precise low pass that tore the Spurs defence apart to send Jordi Alba free through the left. It zipped past Tripper who could only watch in awe and it instigated Lloris with a vague hope that he might reach it if he moved off his line.
However, that decision proved to be his doom, because Messi’s magic was embedded so deep within the ball that it reached Alba first, and Lloris was in trouble. All the left back had to do was cut back to the onrushing Coutinho, who finished magnificently, despite the fact that there were many Spurs bodies ahead of him.
1-0 to Barcelona and a smile on the Maestro’s face.
From then on, Messi invited fouls, committed one himself, and drilled a good ball into the box for Lenglet to head over. However, it was in the 29th minute that the Maestro influenced the game again. He dinked a ball into the box, aimed at Suarez, who took it on his chest and put in down for Coutinho to finish, but the Brazilian failed to connect. However, he did manage to stop the ball from going out of play, sending it into the box again, only for Rakitic to score the goal of the game – a wonderful first time volley.
Barcelona were 2-0 up. Messi was finding space and running the proceeding beautifully – Pochettino had no answer to him in the first half.
Messi resumed his magic at the start of the second half, drifting between two defenders as if they were school kids and hitting a low shot that bounced off the upright! Just 3 minutes later, he did it again, cooking the perfect brew of speed, skill and trickery, starting from the left side and hitting almost the same position on the upright again! Was there any doubt ever of his genius? However, the goal continued to elude him and Kane got one back to pile the pressure on the Maestro. Spurs 1-2 Barcelona.
Messi looked grave, but in reality, he was just taking stock of the situation and assessing what needed to be done. Just 4 minutes from the Kane goal, the Maestro stuck gold. A nice pull back, not one, but two beautiful dummies by Coutinho and then Suarez saw Messi clear on goal, and the Barcelona Skipper calmly slot the ball home. Barcelona were in the comfort zone again, but Messi knew that they could not become complacent.
He continued to initiate attacks, even putting Suarez through on one occasion, but the Uruguayan failed to find the back of the net. Lamela scored in the 65th minute to give the game the edge it required. Messi almost immediately made Lloris pay for a horrible error, only for Alderweireld to save his keeper the blushes.
The game maintained its entertainment quotient right until the 90th minute, when Messi scored his second of the night, as Barcelona capitalized on some slack defending from Spurs. Alba sent in another beautiful ball to box, Suarez applied his second dummy of the night and Messi sent Lloris the other way.
There was too less time for another hattrick, though, and Messi ended the game with 2 goals, 3 vital away points and millions of happy fans around the world.
Pochettino hailed “unbelievable” Messi at the end of the game. He was not the only one. The Argentinean has now scored 10 goals in the 10 games he has played in the season so far, including 5 goals in the 2 Champions League games. The world cannot be blamed for hoping to witness a miracle again this season – the Maestro has exhibited numerous signs to justify those hopes so far.
Against Tottenham, Lionel Messi truly mesmerized, unveiled a new goal celebration and showed the world why he is a class above all others around. It was a beautiful reminder to the world that Lionel Messi still is, the G.O.A.T.