Barcelona started the game like a team on a mission. A fast opening led to a handful of chances, with Lionel Messi coming close to breaking the deadlock, after a training ground corner routine saw his shot saved well by Fabricio in the opposition goal.
Messi didn’t have to wait much longer for the breakthrough though as shortly after, from a superb aerial ball from Ivan Rakitic, he tucked home a fantastic header over the this time despairing man between the sticks.
The Argentine was now starting to look in the mood and produced a couple of eye catching dribbles before swiftly adding an equally elegant second. Neymar played the ball across goal and he controlled, then tapped it perfectly over the on rushing 'keeper. It was a finish of pure beauty and executed with typically flawless technique.
He looked to be somewhere near back to his best during the first half was guilty of surrendering possession too loosely. Some passes were cut out and dribbles halted by defenders, but he was a real menace causing absolute havoc despite a few imperfections.
Messi was at the heart of a splendid first half performance from Barcelona, filled with superb passing and movement. He remained a cause of real torment to the Deportivo defence after the interval as his side went in search of a match sealing goal.
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Although he was slightly quieter in the second period as the Catalans struggled to create chances with such persistent ease, he was never going to be denied a hat-trick
Just as Barcelona looked to be falling a bit flat, he ensured yet another match ball would be stored in the Messi household. From a short corner routine, Dani Alves played him into the box before he swept the ball past the oncoming defenders and struck a point perfect shot into the bottom corner. The finish resembled that of the old Messi in many ways.
After the third goal came and with it the inevitable three points, Barcelona took their foot off the gas somewhat in the wake of a crucial mid-week tie against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey.
Messi also seemed to decide that the Deportivo defenders had endured enough pain and took it relatively easy, his side breezing to an eventual 4-0 win.
He is undoubtedly flourishing back out on the right as opposed to a more central role, after a match winning showing vs the Atletico the weekend previous and then this hat-trick grabbing performance a week later. He is able to influence games more and receive more of the ball, which is only beneficial for Barca.
Messi won the match for his team again and to the mass relief of all fans of the club around the world, he seems to be regaining his form of old gradually. However, the three goals aside he wasn’t sensational during the 90 minutes or so. But he was superior to the opposition and, as is always the case with Messi, that proved to be enough.
The four-time winner of the Ballon d’Or provided three world class moments to win the match, so even the harshest critic couldn’t take this special showing away from him.
These magical moments are beginning to win games comfortably for his side and with Messi on form, anything is possible for Barcelona. Watch out Cristiano, your great rival is seemingly on the comeback trail…
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