Football fans think Lionel Messi deserved straight red card vs. Athletic Bilbao

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On the eve of his 33rd birthday, Lionel Messi helped Barcelona seal a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou.

The Argentine provided the all-important assist for Ivan Rakitic in the 71st minute to send Barça back to the top of La Liga ahead of Real Madrid.

However, just a couple of minutes before Rakitic’s winner, Messi was - in the eyes of many football fans - extremely fortunate to avoid punishment following a rash challenge on Yeray.

As the ball was cut back to the edge of the box, Yeray slid in and cleared the danger.

Rather than jumping out of the way, Messi went in with his stands and landed on the Athletic defender.

It looks particularly nasty in slow-motion - and you can see the incident for yourselves here…

Should Messi have seen red for this challenge?

Many people on social media think so. They can’t believe Messi wasn’t even booked…

Madrid-based newspaper Marca, meanwhile, have asked their readers whether Messi should have been sent off.

At the time of writing, more than half of those who’ve voted believe the six-time Ballon d’Or winner should have received his marching orders from referee Jesus Gil.

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This is the second time in as many games that Messi has controversially avoided punishment during a La Liga fixture.

In Barça’s 0-0 draw against Sevilla last week, Messi shoved Diego Carlos and somehow avoided a yellow card - much to the surprise of rival fans.

There’s currently intense pressure on Barça, who need Real Madrid to drop points in order to win the title, to win every fixture at the moment.

And these uncharacteristic incidents might suggest that Messi, the team’s talisman and world’s best player, might be feeling that pressure right now.

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