There were some talks about Lionel Messi sitting out the league match, in order to prepare for a more important test further down the week. Discussions of his fitness didn’t really matter, and a change of tactics made no difference as well. The finest scoring machine on planet earth led Barcelona to another convincing win, and looks more than ready for the Clasico that’s coming up.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored 3 goals a few hours earlier. Lionel Messi topped that with 4 goals; the first time for him with 4 this season, breaking the 200 La Liga goals mark, while making it 33 league goals in 21 matches, which is always impossible to comprehend. In the race for amount of goals in a calendar year, which is being paid attention to this time right off the bat, Messi has nine. Yes, more than Ronaldo.
But despite of what everything though – the league is over, Barcelona came out with fire in their bellies against Osasuna, a team that’s usually a lot more trouble at home than away, with another result to prove it. Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Jordi Alba got to rest up for the Clasico, as Barcelona played in something reminding a classic 4-3-3 for the first time in quite a while.
Rift with David Villa? Tito Vilanova was reminded by someone or just remembered himself that he has a striker who has been a La Liga scoring champion, World Cup champion and Euro champion on his bench, and maybe it’s time to dust him off a little bit and destroy those rumors about him not playing because of some sort of enmity between him and Messi. No moments of love were recorded, but Villa did set up one of Messi’s goals, and the two were involved in a group hug. Better than Messi shouting at him before Villa disappears for a couple of months on the bench.
And just like Real Madrid need to worry about everyone but Ronaldo being in form, the same goes for Barcelona. Lionel Messi, even on his worst possible day, won’t be replaced and is still a threat to score goals. The performance of Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Jordi Alba and obviously whoever mans the defensive unit are the ones who need to raise their game, or at least make sure it doesn’t drop. Messi is great on his own, but what makes him unique on a historic level is those that play with him, that make it possible for him to be this good, breaking scoring record after scoring record.
There have been more important Clasico matches in recent years than this Copa Del Rey clash at the Santiago Bernabeu, but sometimes great rivalries are also about spoiling it for your enemy. A top notch Messi with teammates in the right kind of form can ruin another patch of Real Madrid’s hopes for any kind of trophy this season.