Lionel Messi inspired a tremendous win against Italian champions, Juventus at the Camp Nou with two goals and a hand in the other as Barcelona shot up to the top of Group D in the UEFA Champions League.
Messi came into the tie with the hoodoo of never scoring against Gianluigi Buffon hanging over his shoulder and at the tail-end of a very well Barcelona-controlled first half, Messi struck his 515th Barcelona goal following a neat interchange with Luis Suarez.
In the second half, Messi hit the bar – for the sixth time already this season – before Rakitic scored the second goal of the game 11 minutes into the second half after fantastic work by Messi down the right flank. It was more of when rather than if and when Andres Iniesta started a quick counter, Messi was on hand to hit the ball past Buffon again for his 96th Champions League goal.
It was cruise control from then on after the introduction of Sergi Roberto and then Paulinho. Juventus will rue their luck as Dybala had a looping shot calmly cleared off the line by Gérard Pique in the second half although their forward line never really threatened Marc Andre Ter-stegen all through the game.
Messi is obviously enjoying the false 9 Ernesto Valverde has reverted him to, mirroring Pep Guardiola’s final two seasons at Barça. It was a fantastic team game, Iniesta, Busquets and Nelson Semedo having a great game while Ousmane Dembele showed flashes of why the club invested so much on him although but Suarez is still yet to grasp his new role.
Barcelona now have 12 goals and 4 clean sheets in their last 4 games this season. Messi has 8 of those goals with 7 coming in the last 3 matches. The talk over the summer was that of crisis, at the moment it is that of… Lionel Messi.