Barcelona were left frustrated as they laboured to a 0-0 draw away to Sevilla on Friday night.
The Blaugrana hardly played like a side on course for La Liga glory during the goalless affair at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium and now Real Madrid have the chance to capitalise.
Victory at Real Sociedad would be enough for Los Blancos to draw level at the La Liga summit and propel football fans into a fascinating title race that could come down to goal difference.
The Argentine superstar was fresh from a 10/10 masterclass in his return game with Mallorca, before moving to 699 career goals with a stunning halfway run against Leganes.
Sevilla 0-0 Barcelona
However, there were no such majestic clips to take from his performance against Sevilla and the closest he came to scoring came from a trademark free-kick that was headed off the line.
Instead, Messi made the most headlines for an incident that many football fans think should have earned him a red card and that his 'humble' reputation may have worked in his favour.
Diego Carlos, who had landed a rough tackle on Messi earlier in the game, was pushed by the Barcelona superstar during a confrontation that sparked handbags between the two teams.
Should Messi have been sent off?
Messi had walked up to his Sevilla rival visibly angry before pushing him with an action that many believe would have resulted in players like Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo being sent off.
Carlos hit the turf as a result of the push and Messi was joined by Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets in continuing the animosity by standing over him in the aftermath.
In the end, though, there was to be no punishment for Messi. You can check out the incident down below to assess whether the referee made the right decision:
One fan wrote: "That's a red card if its Ramos, Ronaldo or any other but not even a yellow if it's Messi. Rules are so different for u when ur name is Leo Messi."
Another penned: "Cristiano Ronaldo touched a player’s hair and got a unfair red card. Lionel Messi slaps and pushes the Sevilla player and and doesn’t even get a yellow card. The most protected player in the world."
And a third posted: "Just imagine Ronaldo here, he would've got a red card for sure. Biggest hypocrites are Messi fans."
Frankly, when either Messi or Ronaldo breathe, the fans of the other seem to take umbrage somehow, but there is definitely reason to imagine the latter's more bad-boy image could have worked against him here.
Besides, Ronaldo has nine career red cards to his name and Messi has just two, none of which have come for Barcelona. For our money, this didn't warrant a first.
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