Barcelona's Lionel Messi channeled Cristiano Ronaldo with his leadership vs Real Sociedad

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Lionel Messi is never too far away from criticism as Barcelona's captain.

Images of Messi looking disconsolate at half-time during the 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich were the latest example of his leadership skills being called into question.

However, I think we can all agree that the social media narrative against Messi's leadership can sometimes go a little too far and are often bound by comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi's leadership skills

I'll be the first person to admit that I'd rather have Ronaldo as my captain when the chips are down in the dressing room, but that doesn't automatically mean that Messi is a poor leader.

Besides, there have been clips over the years that have fantastically fought Messi's corner and his rousing speech to the Barcelona players at Anfield in 2019 serves as a prime example.

Just because it didn't prevent the Blaugrana from suffering their latest Champions League humiliation, it doesn't mean that Messi not speaking a little more passionately was responsible.

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Barcelona vs Real Sociedad

And for those who still think I'm clutching at straws, then let me refer to Barcelona's Supercopa de España win over Real Sociedad on Wednesday night, which came in dramatic circumstances.

With Messi ruled out with a muscular strain, Barcelona failed to get the better of their opponents in regulation time with Frenkie de Jong and Mikel Oyarzabal exchanging goals.

As a result, Barcelona were forced to participate in their first competitive penalty shootout of the century with Marc-Andre ter Stegen proving the difference in a 3-2 victory from 12 yards.

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Messi's leadership vs Sociedad

So, what did Messi have to do with any of that considering he wasn't even playing? Well, more than you'd expect because the 33-year-old didn't need the armband to serve as Barca's captain.

According to Spanish newspaper Sport, as translated by Football Espana, Messi came down from the stands to give tactical instructions to his teammates and celebrate with them at full-time.

He was also seen encouraging the Barcelona penalty takers on the grass during the shootout and was photographed congratulating Riqui Puig, 21, who converted the winning spot-kick.

You can check out images of Messi proving his leadership skills down below:

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Ronaldo comparisons

Let's be honest here, Messi could have easily just watched on from the stands considering he's nursing a knock or simply stood on the touchline to show his face as the game progressed to penalties.

But no, Messi was active in his leadership by joining Ronald Koeman in giving instructions to the players in a manner that reminded some fans of Ronaldo's behaviour at Euro 2016.

Messi's eternal rival went viral for helping to encourage Joao Moutinho to take a penalty during the quarter-final shootout with Poland and, well, the Wolves midfielder duly scored from 12 yards.

Nobody can be sure what Messi said to Puig and the Barcelona players by contrast, but it's clear that he also had a very positive pre-penalty shootout influence, which inspired the same result.

So, sure, Messi isn't exactly the sort of Willam Wallace character to scream 'You'll never take our freedom' during big games, but think twice before you call the Barca skipper a poor leader.

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