When Messi retires we will tell stories of all the things that he did. And when we evoke memories of his best games, we’ll obligatorily talk about last night, a second half in which he gave an absolute exhibition. His energy, his enthusiasm and his lucidity were on a level of their own after initially being overwhelmed by Sevilla (a great Sevilla, that is, with a well-conceived and well-served game plan). The home side had just one drawback though: the lack of a real cutting edge like they did last season through Gameiro. Owing to that, Sevilla couldn’t close out the game in the first half when Barça were looking there for the taking.
Barça had too much to lose
Messi though recognised this as a game in which much could be lost. Falling to Sevilla would have handed a clear gap at the top to Madrid, who’ve welcomed a recovered Modric back and will soon have Casemrio too. So no, Barça couldn’t allow themselves to lose this game, they needed to win it and Messi saw that they did. With a goal worthy of surgeon near the break and a Di Stefano-like solo performance in the second half, Messi did almost everything for his team and his excellence rubbed off on his teammates, helping raise their game. Sevilla’s level hardly even dipped either, making for a wonderful second 45. But with the game already tipped in their balance, Barça ended up winners – and rightly so.
Neymar in a bad patch
Of those who grew as the game went on next to Messi, the young Denis Suarez was a player who particularly stood out, having been given the task of looking after the vacant role of Iniesta (a position rotated between Rafinha, André Gomes, Arda Turan and himself). They all have something, but until yesterday it was Denis Suarez who had the most to prove. Yesterday though, he shone in a game of blistering pace – something which provides a bit of good news for the club (despite Neymar going through somewhat of a bad patch however). Neymar is beginning to become a focus point of conflict, through his play and his manner, and going down such a route can see a great player fall off track.