In terms of pure drama and entertainment, the Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Bernabeu back in April was easily the standout match of the 2016-17 campaign.
It had absolutely everything, including a Sergio Ramos red card and a dramatic late winner by Lionel Messi, and will be remembered as one of the best Clasicos of the modern era.
Barça’s 3-2 victory was made all the more remarkable by the fact they’d been knocked out of the Champions League by Juventus four days earlier. Oh, and they also went 1-0 down at the Bernabeu when Casemiro tapped home from close range midway through the first half.
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Without Messi, who was extraordinary on that warm April evening, Barcelona wouldn’t have won this particular Clasico.
The Argentina international cancelled out Casemiro’s opener five minutes later and then scored the winning goal with the final kick of the match.
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Quite why Madrid, who had been reduced to 10 men in the 77th minute when Ramos scythed down Messi, were pushing in search of the winning goal in stoppage time remains a mystery.
A point would have been a decent result for Zinedine Zidane’s side, but they were caught out on the break and paid the price.
Messi tucked home a beautiful left-footed shot and then produced his now iconic celebration in front of the Madridistas.
What Luis Enrique said to Messi after his winning goal
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who turns 30 later this month, has now revealed what Luis Enrique said to him after the match.
"Luis Enrique told me that I'm the best player in football history after that win at the Bernabeu," Messi told FourFourTwo magazine, per Spanish newspaper Marca.
Plenty of football fans were saying the same thing that night.
Messi was masterful while Cristiano Ronaldo, who will almost certainly secure the 2017 Ballon d’Or after winning both La Liga and the Champions League with Los Blancos, did very little.
Messi: Enrique's arrival motivated us
“Luis Enrique motivated us to be a great team again. I have to say that his arrival motivated us to compete again,” Messi added, per Goal.
“We were, as a group, in a low moment, but when he arrived at Camp Nou, he lifted us to train and play at our best level. He gave us the desire to become a great team again.”
Enrique stepped down at the end of the season and has been replaced by the Spanish coach Ernesto Valverde.
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