Lionel Messi's beautiful goal and assist for Barcelona vs Espanyol

Lionel Messi vs Espanyol

Where would Barcelona have been without Lionel Messi during Ernesto Valverde's reign?

It's a question many Barcelona fans have asked since the start of the 2017/18 season, with the majestical Argentine carrying the Blaugrana at times.

Last season, Messi notched 34 La Liga goals as Barca collected a domestic double - he was awarded the European Golden Shoe for his efforts.

And this season, the 31-year-old has been simply magnificent.

He has six goals in just three games in the Champions League and took his La Liga tally to 10 against Espanyol.

Messi grabbed the opening goal of the Catalan derby, executing a free-kick that was simply technical perfection.


The dip he gets on the ball is ridiculous, with the Espanyol goalkeeper standing no chance - having three shot-stoppers between the sticks wouldn't have saved it.

Messi the proceeded to provide a brilliant assist for a wonderful Ousmane Dembele goal a few minutes later to make it 2-0.


Not bad, Leo.

Messi is now well in the mix to being recognised as the greatest free-kick taker the game has ever seen.

The likes of David Beckham and Juninho certainly provide stern competition for the accolade, but Messi is up there these days.

A few years back, Messi's arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo was recognised as the better set-piece taker between the two.

Messi in action vs Espanyol

How times have changed in that respect.

Messi's moment of magic is yet another reminder of just how ridiculous his fifth-place finish in the Ballon d'Or standings was.

Luka Modric, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ronaldo all finished ahead of the Barcelona man, much to the dismay of most football fans.

Brazilian legend Pele also spoke out and criticised Messi, suggesting that he relies too much on his left foot and body feints.


As expected, the serial goal scorer's comments didn't go down well.

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