Messi influence putting Barcelona back in driving seat


When Barcelona made a stuttering start to the season criticism predictably rained down on coach Ernesto Valverde and questions were asked about whether the team was reaching the end of its winning cycle - yet one crucial factor was forgotten. He then stopped his progress and lofted a cross over the back line of defenders, bending the feed ahead for Vidal, who used his right foot to deflect a shot past Valladolid keeper Jordi Masip.

Clement Lenglet opened the scoring for the Catalan giants before the visitors equalised at the Camp Nou.

Only the World Cup and Copa America titles remain a nightmare for Lionel Messi and that can be won at the national team, not with Barcelona.

Barcelona began the season in shaky form with Messi sidelined through injury, but since their captain started for the first time, on September 24, they have won their seven matches in all competitions.

"It seems as if I am anti-Argentine, but until Messi plays in the big games, he will continue to be a player of home games", Gatti said on the TV show "El Chiringuito de Jugones" (via Marca). "But he is getting better and better".

It meant this was the first game at Camp Nou since violent protests broke out across Catalonia after nine pro-independence leaders were sentenced to imprisonment on October 21.

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Broad yellow banners with "Independencia" and "Llibertat" written across them had been unfurled earlier to kick-off however there became no value of unrest.

Messi, however, was in an ominous mood.

In 16 seasons at Barca, Messi has hit those 608 goals in 695 games.

He told Catalunya Radio: "One day Messi will retire and Barca will cope with that".

Suarez then finished Valladolid off, tucking away after being released by Messi's incisive pass.

In injury time, Messi will have to accept had his hat-trick however curled broad of the left put up when he appeared particular to realize. It might need been his first mistake all evening.