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Lionel Messi was applauded by Atletico Madrid fans after performance in 2009

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Lionel Messi will be in action when Barcelona take on Atletico Madrid on Saturday evening.

The Argentinian has recovered from a broken arm - he managed to return earlier than expected, playing in the 4-3 defeat to Real Betis before the international break - and he’ll no doubt be raring to go.

That surprise defeat to Betis leaves Atletico just one point behind league leaders Barca.

So far, no team in Spain’s top flight has emerged as a dominant force.

Consider this: Barcelona’s record if they were in the Premier League would see them outside the top four.

But Messi’s availability makes them the favourites to win the title.

Messi has enjoyed many memorable moments against Atletico over the years.

Messi starred v Atletico Madrid in 2009

Who can forget his stunning free-kick at the Vicente Calderon in 2012?

But it’s impossible not to bring up Barcelona’s 3-1 win against Atletico Madrid in 2009 when discussing Messi’s history against Los Rojiblancos.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner didn’t have any Ballon d’Ors to speak of at the time. He was 21-years-old and was in the process of reaching a level that other players can only dream of.

Messi was truly sublime, scoring a hat-trick as Pep Guardiola’s side cruised to victory.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M

And, when he came off as a substitute in the closing stages, Atletico supporters rose to their feet to applaud him.

That’s when you know you’ve done well. Check out Messi’s highlights from the match below - he leaves the pitch to a standing ovation at the 10:20 mark.

It’s those kind of virtuoso performances that have led many to claim that Messi is the greatest footballer in history.

He would go on to win his first Ballon d’Or at the end of 2009 by a 240-point margin.

It was a near unanimous vote - Messi received 473 points out of a possible 480.

“Honestly, I knew that I was among the favourites because Barcelona had a fruitful year in 2009," Messi told France Football after claiming the award.

"But I didn't expect to win with such a margin.

“The Ballon d'Or is very important to me. All the players who won it were great players, and some great players never won it.”

Topics:
Football
La Liga
Atletico Madrid
Barcelona
Lionel Messi

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