Lionel Messi's free-kick: Barcelona star outwits Granada's strange tactic to score

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Lionel Messi is back, well and truly. 

The Argentine flung himself to the top of the La Liga goalscoring charts with a brace against Granada on Saturday. 

Most importantly, however, he banished conjecture about his ‘poor’ season at Barcelona with characteristic aplomb. 

First, he powered the ball into the top corner from near the edge of the box. Just seven minutes later, Messi doubled his tally with a well-executed free-kick just outside the area. 

We’re as keen as anyone to adulate the 33-year-old, especially given the miserable time he’s endured in the 2020/21 campaign. Not only has he looked noticeably unhappy in training after handing in a transfer request in the summer, we haven’t been seeing him at his clinical best on the pitch. 

But that’s changing. In midweek, he hit two past Athletic Bilbao and now he’s followed that up with another double. 

Spare a thought for Granada, amidst all this, who must have feared that the resurgence of the six-time Ballon d’Or would come at exactly the wrong moment for them. 

In particular, La Liga defenders live in dread at having to face one of his famous free-kicks. After all, he’s blasted more than a half century of them into the back of the net. Top bins, under the wallers – you name it, Messi’s scored it. 

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Teams have tried everything to try and stop the inevitable. Back in June, Sevilla tried two unusual tactics at once – Jules Koundé backpedalling to head the ball away, and Sergio Reguilon lying down on the floor. 

Players stretching themselves across the turf while opponents take set pieces has become increasingly common in recent months.

But what you rarely see is a Granada player kneeling, before suddenly hurling himself to the ground at the last possible second. 

El Graná were clearly wise to the fact that Messi might try and surprise them by pinning it under the wall.

Yet he still managed to outsmart them by aiming for the other corner instead. 

There’s a reason he’s arguably the greatest free-kick taker in the world. 

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