After the draw against Valencia at Camp Nou, Lionel Messi and Barcelona showed up with a great victory over Real Valladolid. Messi broke one of Pele’s records and his brilliant play by linking up with his teammates was the highlight of the match.

Messi surged into the area before placing the ball past Jordi Masipwith composure and into the back of the Real Valladolid net – 644 goals for the same club, one more than the great Pele managed for Santos.

A revamped formation from manager Ronald Koeman paid handsome dividends, with Messi pulling the strings on what was a comprehensive performance from the Catalans, and Clement Lenglet and Martin Braithwaite joining Messi on the score-sheet.

There were three notable omissions from the starting XI of Koeman, as Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho, and Sergio Busquets all found themselves on the bench with the Ditch boss deploying a three center-back formation, with Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba on the wings, Frenkie de Jong and Miralem Pjanic as holding midfielders and Pedri and Braithwaite accompanying Messi in the attack.

Barcelona came out all guns blazing with Messi leading from the front.

He certainly didn’t look like a man who had lost his motivation at Valladolid.

Messi was once again integral to everything positive that Barca produced.

He had 11 shots on goal, seven of which hit the target. He only scored once but was only denied a double by the post in the dying seconds. However, there were also three key passes as he passed and probed all evening.

He teed up Clement Lenglet for the opener midway through the first half before then demonstrating his incredible vision and outrageous passing ability in releasing the excellent Sergino Dest to cross for Martin Braithwaite, who made it 2-0 in the 35th minute.

Messi’s record-breaking goal, then, merely capped what was a fine all-round performance for a Barca side that looked better balanced and more defensively solid in a 3-4-3 formation.

Koeman went to his bench, bringing on Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo, and Busquets for Ronald Araujo, Alba, and De Jong, respectively, with the three-goal cushion, however, goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made two straight excellent saves to make sure the lead stayed three, as Valladolid had cracks at goal through Orellana and Kike Perez.

Koeman made just one final change, subbing on Philippe Coutinho for Pedri, as Barcelona calmly controlled the final minutes to put a stamp on one of their finest wins of the season.

“I’ve said it a lot,” Koeman stated when asked about Messi’s performance, “I see Leo happy here.”

“He’s very important for us with his creativity. You can see that when there are good players alongside him.”

Pedri was another player who impressed on the night, as was Miralem Pjanic in midfield.

“Pedri is a very good player when he plays in the middle,” Koeman said.

“Pjanic had to wait for his chance but he played a great game. He was good with the ball, but also defensively.”

Koeman changed his setup at Valladolid, and he was happy with the results.

“We changed to improve the defence and the wings,” Koeman explained.

“We’ve seen a very serious performance with good concentration and good chances created.”

Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief and will spend Christmas in fifth place.