Lionel Messi couldn’t make the breakthrough for Barcelona in their clash with Atletico Madrid.
All eyes were on Camp Nou this weekend as the leading two contenders for La Liga glory sought to slug it out for top spot in Spain. However, let’s just say that the game didn’t live up to expectations.
In the end, the final whistle in Catalonia brought down the curtain on a disappointing 0-0 draw, which suits Real Madrid the most by way of giving them the opportunity to move joint-top.
Barcelona 0-0 Atletico Madrid
If Los Blancos secure three points against Sevilla, they would move top because of their superior head-to-head record against their neighbours in the Spanish capital with one win and a draw.
As such, Barcelona will be kicking themselves because a win for Ronald Koeman’s side could easily have teed them up for an stunning turnaround this season.
But it wasn’t down to a lack of trying from Messi because the six-time Ballon d’Or winner was the architect behind some of Barcelona’s best chances, even if couldn’t find a way past Jan Oblak.
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Messi plugging away vs Atletico
The Slovenian shot-stopper made an astonishing save to deny what would have been an incredible solo effort from Messi, before thwarting one of his curling free-kicks in the second-half.
However, just because Messi didn’t strengthen his claim for the Pichichi Trophy, that doesn’t mean there weren’t flashes of brilliance from the Argentine along the way.
And one such moment actually came on the back of an uncharacteristic error with Messi tamely conceding possession on the edge of Atletico’s box when Joao Felix nipped in with an interception.
Messi busts myth about his playing style
Nevertheless, contrary to the never-ending claims that Messi simply doesn’t bother with defending these days, it was the Barca skipper who was seen bombing down the pitch to help the back-line.
In fact, by the time Atletico had progressed their counterattack to the left wing in Barcelona’s half, it was Messi himself who regained possession with a canny tackle before swiftly chasing it down.
All in all, Messi had essentially run the equivalent length of one penalty area to the other, so be sure to check out the brilliant moment of reactive defending down below:
Try saying ‘Messi doesn’t defend’ with a straight face after watching that.
‘Best defender in the world’
Now, look, it might be easy to think that Messi doesn’t slam his foot on the accelerator when it comes to defending on the back of viral clips like those taken against Dynamo Kiev last year.
And we can’t get away from the fact that Messi, now 33 years old, tactically rests during segments of games, but the myth that he simply doesn’t pull his weight defensively is so far wide of the mark.
Besides, you only need to ask one of the greatest managers of all time, Pep Guardiola, to establish that Messi not only chips in defensively, but he does so with incredible quality and potency.
According to Goal, Guardiola said in 2013: “Messi wins the ball playing as the false No.9. If you put him at left-back, he would be just as good. He is the best defender in the world.” I rest my case.