Not the grandest of displays from Barcelona, but it doesn’t matter when you have someone like Lionel Messi on the team, who didn’t just help turn the match around and win it for his team, but also set a new record for goals for just one club in Spanish football, reaching 334 career goals for Barca, surpassing Telmo Zarra.
Messi still needs a few more goals to get to Zarra’s La Liga record, but that will probably happen by next season, although with Messi (and Ronaldo) you never know, and one impressive scoring run through a couple of months will change all that.
The important thing was Barcelona winning despite going down early in Sevilla, and getting over an issue they’ve had in away matches this season. They needed some help from the linesman, who didn’t see Alexis Sanchez in a clear offside position as Barcelona equalized. This is the second time this season that Barcelona get some officiating help in order to beat Sevilla, but it didn’t matter that much considering everything that happened from that moment on.
Barcelona didn’t dominate and run the pitch ruthlessly, but they were clinical, scoring four goals from nine shots at goal and only five on target. Someone says that these kind of teams win championships, but Barcelona have won titles with more exciting moments of football, and without the scares that seem to follow them through almost every match.
This was just as important to Messi as it was to Barcelona, who are now in the lead of a three-way tie, as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid follow them due to goal difference, while all three have 57 points.
Since his return from injury he hasn’t been exactly scintillating, taking in quite a bit of criticism. He didn’t score through his first three matches coming back, and when he did score against Valencia it came in a shocking home loss. It didn’t come in mind blowing dribbles, but simply good, smart football plays while providing a finishing touch from outside the box without too much power, but with deadly accuracy. Without Neymar playing to provide another goalscoring threat, Messi needs to be this clear cut every match until the Brazilian returns.
Besides Messi, two important things for Martino to think about: Andres Iniesta is his best midfielder, and most of the good things that came on the attacking side for Barcelona happened to be when Iniesta touched the ball. His individual skills are by far the best out of the Xavi-Fabregas-Andres group, which allow him to do so well even when Barcelona aren’t at their best.
On the defensive side of the ball, it’s probably time to give up on the Javier Mascherno experiment after a very long time. He isn’t a centre back, and never will be. Marc Bartra might not have cost millions of Euros to bring over (he’s home grown), but he is a better defender than Mascherano, who should be playing in the midfield or simply coming off the bench.