Lionel Messi Was Unspeakably Good In Barcelona’s Win Over Athletic Club

The Argentine had two goals and one of my favorite passes ever.

Maybe you were watching Manchester United vs. Manchester City in the Carabao Cup (why?). Maybe you were watching the fall of the U.S. Capitol (that’s more sensible). Either way, you missed Lionel Messi crafting a staggering monument to his own genius on the San Mamés pitch Wednesday during Barcelona’s 3-2 LaLiga victory over Athletic Club 

It began, as it always does, with Barça in crisis. With only three minutes on the clock, Raúl García’s through ball easily dissected Barcelona’s high defensive line and sent the rapid Iñaki Williams on his way. 

He made light work of Clément Lenglet’s challenge before finishing beyond Marc-André ter Stegen.

Barça’s response arrived 11 minutes later. Messi popped up on the left and took possession before spotting Frenkie de Jong’s run — a run from deep and on the other side of the field. I don’t think there’s any athlete, in any sport, that can manipulate the ball of their respective profession quite like this.

The height, distance, pace, curve, accuracy, etc. It’s all perfection. 

De Jong then did exceptionally well to pop his cutback to Pedri for the header.  

Barcelona’s first half comeback was complete in the 38th minute with Messi and Pedri again providing the impetus. It was Messi who took possession in the center of the park before playing it through to Pedri, and the teenager took one touch inside before playing a backheel into the path of Messi, who had continued his run.

The play pulled Bilbao’s defense and keeper Unai Simón all over the shop, allowing Messi to cooly finish at the near post.

Needless to say, Messi was in the mood. He then cracked one off the post in the 59th minute.

So, three minutes later, he recalibrated and went crossbar down off Antoine Griezmann’s feed.  

Unplayable.

Messi then ruined this article with a really bad back-pass to allow Iker Muniain to pull one back in the 90th minute, but it didn't ultimately matter. 

The win moves Barcelona up to third in the table, seven points behind Atlético — although Diego Simeone’s side still maintains two games in hand. Next up is seventh-place Granada on Sunday. 

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