BARCELONA

Messi lost a touch of magic in the Clásico

Messi has now gone four games wihtout scoring against Real Madrid. He was active, but not decisive: 40 of his 46 passes were in the opponent's half but he could not bring about a goal.

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Messi en el Clásico
AFP

Football is about millimetres and the truth is Lionel Messi was lacking something in the Clásico.

The Barcelona captain has now gone a season and a half without scoring against Real Madrid. And his last goal came on the back of a Luis Suarez foul and happened in a game where Barça had already secured the title and had nothing to play for. It was on May 6, 2018, shortly after the catastrophe in Rome.

The Argentine talisman was the key to yesterday's game and in part, he did not disappoint. No one sees the game quite like him and he set out to explore Madrid’s weaknesses. But this time Messi was a little less Messi.

For the 46 passes he gave, 11 were wayward, which for him seems like too many. However, he knew where to bring the game to Real Madrid and did not want to hide out in inconsequential areas. As such 40 of those 46 passes were in the opponent’s half of the field. And, of course, in that area – with the last pass and the decisive shot – quality and precision is a requisite.

Messi takes on Luka Modric in the Clásico.

‘Messi-centrism’ is still the best recipe

Barça is built to protect their captain so as to enable him to deliver the final blow. The He came close on Wednesday night but was unable to score. But Messi’s numbers and recent exhibitions show that he is not in crisis. And the Clásico will not open any debate around his authority on the pitch and ability to influence the game.

‘Messi-centrism’ is still the best recipe because, as seen in yesterday's game, 46 plays passed through his boots – be it at the start, middle or end of the move.

He has little to prove as he is the top scorer in Clásico history and it looks like a century will pass before someone will match him (he currently has 26 goals and the still-active players who are closest to him are Luis Suarez (11) and Karim Benzema (9), both of whom are older).

But geniuses of his nature feed on reprisal. And in a few months at the Bernabéu, he will have another opportunity.