If Cristiano Ronaldo can do it, then so can Lionel Messi. That seems to be the way it works both domestically in Spain and now in Europe, after the little Argentinean struck twice in a 3-2 comeback win against Spartak Moscow.
24 hours after the Portuguese winger hit an injury-time winner to beat Manchester City by the same scoreline, Messi helped pull Barca away from an unlikely defeat against the brave Russian minnows.
Favourites to win the tournament outright, all seemed to be going well for Tito Vilanova’s side after Christian Tello put the Blaugrana into an early lead.
However, Spartak managed to pull level without having a shot on target, with Dani Alves putting past his own goalkeeper on 15 minutes. It would get worse in the second period, with Romulo’s low shot shocking the Nou Camp.
Barcelona were sparked into action, and it was Messi who unleashed the shackles of a defensive-minded opponent, tapping home from a perfect Tello pass on 71 minutes.
Nine minutes later, and it was Alexis Sanchez who found the 25-year-old in space, and his neat finish at the far post secured a much-needed turnaround in the Group G opener.
If there was ever any doubt over the importance of Messi to Barcelona, then 26 goals in 24 Champions League matches should prove that point. He looks set to add those numbers, and Vilanova will need him too judging by last night’s performance.
Whilst Barcelona have plenty of top players in their side, David Villa’s broken leg increased the pressure on Messi to score more goals last term, and the Spaniard still isn’t back to his best in Catalonia.
Messi’s situation is similar to that of Ronaldo in many ways. Whilst there isn’t injuries to look at in the capital, the former Manchester United star remains the go-to man for Jose Mourinho.
Gonzalo Higuaian and Karim Benzema are more than capable in-front of goal, and chipped in with valuable strikes last season. However, it’s Ronaldo who’s the leading scorer at the Santiago Bernabeu, and is the man to get his side out of trouble when it matters.
That is, in essence, what makes these two players the best in the world. When it matters, on the biggest stage, the pair always seem to deliver the goods. And, if they continue to do that in the Champions League this season, then an all-Spanish final could be on the cards at Wembley Stadium.
Watch Messi's first goal in the comeback below & leave your thoughts in the comments section...
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