Both Barcelona and Real Madrid had to scrap this weekend, but the Blaugrana showed that with Leo Messi in their ranks, the La Liga race is alive and kicking
Barcelona, one of the best teams in the world and one of the most successful over the past decade, have not exactly had their best month, with the 4-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League leaving a huge scar for the Blaugrana and lackluster performances in La Liga.
But when Lionel Messi plays at his best, few teams are as good as Luis Enrique’s, as the weekend clash against Atletico Madrid demonstrated, Once again, the Argentinian number 10 made all a difference for his club.
Barcelona won 2-1 away against the Rojiblancos, essentially showing how they remain the main challengers standing in Real Madrid’s path to winning La Liga. The Blancos went 2-0 down in their own Sunday clash against Villarreal, but the hope for Barcelona to close the gap at the top didn’t last very long as Alvaro Morata’s decisive 3-2 goal gave Zinedine Zidane all three points.
So both Real Madrid and Barcelona managed to win difficult games, with the Blaugrana emerging from this troubling period carried on the back of their main man, Messi. The Argentinean remains the best player on Earth on a par with Cristiano Ronaldo, and the way he can win games on his own remains unique.
And this is what gives the Blaugrana hope for the rest of the season. Realistically, Messi will have to bow out of the Champions League, after that incredible result in Paris, but Barcelona look like they can challenge Real Madrid for the La Liga title up to the very final game of the season.
Barcelona have won their last five games in La Primera and have every requirement to ultimately win it. If Real Madrid played a game with the BBC – Bale, Benzema, Cristiano – up front for the first time in 116 days against Atleti, Barcelona are still waiting for the best version of the MSN – Messi, Suarez, Neymar – the trio that made a difference for Luis Enrique two-years-ago for the Treble and also last season.
Being knocked out of the Champions League could give Barcelona the best motivation to once again show their domestic dominance by grabbing La Liga away from Real Madrid once again. Zinedine Zidane often claimed this season that the main aim of the Merengues this season is to win the league, after taking home two Champions League titles in three years, and only one La Liga title over the last eight years.
But Madrid look like they will be progressing in Europe, and with Barcelona finding their feet again in Spain, it could be a lot harder than it seems at the moment. The Blaugrana will have just the league on which to focus, and with Messi up front, a comeback on Real Madrid seems highly possible.