He is Barcelona’s saviour. Without him, they are like a flower without fragrance. And here are five times he saved them late in the game
Lionel Messi is the man of the moment – when is he not anyway? The Argentine is such an essential cog for Barcelona that without him, they are almost useless. This comes after the Catalans have spent a fortune on players like Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho and yet, when the Argentina captain didn’t start against Sevilla, the Blaugrana were on the brink of losing.
It wasn’t the first time that he had saved the Cules from certain defeat and it definitely won’t be the last time. Before the list just grows bigger and bigger, here are the five times when Lionel Messi saved Barcelona in the final few minutes of a game.
#5 Hat-trick against Real Madrid
This was the day when the Madridistas knew that this man would go on to weave more haunting memories in the tapestry of their minds. As if Ronaldinho’s torture wasn’t enough, the Blancos now had to worry about a young Argentine that was touted to be the heir of the dancing Brazilian.
As it turned out, Madrid were winning 2-3 with only a few minutes left on the clock. Normal time was already over and the match was in its tense final moments in the injury time. Marcelo was tracking Messi when Ronaldinho spotted the Argentine and passed it to him.
Messi received the ball and just ran diagonally towards the far corner. He ran, ran and ran and left the Madrid defenders burning in his trail. As he neared the goal, he spotted an opening the far post with the corner of his eye and shot the ball towards it with vehemence.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
#4 Spanish Super Cup (2011)
Another game against Madrid, another winner in the final few minutes of the game. Can we just rename the last minutes of every El Clasico as Messi time? With the tie poised at 4-4 (2-2 from the first-leg), a goal was the only thing needed to separate the tie.
Karim Benzema had scored just a goal with 9 minutes of normal time left. The match looked set to go to extra-time, but the Argentine had other plans. Instigating a move by passing to Adriano on the right, the Brazilian cut the ball back in a supposed no man’s land towards which the number 10 was rushing in.
What happened next was what everybody expects with Lionel Messi, so no further comments are needed.
#3 Free-kick against Villarreal (2017)
The clock read 89.30, Messi was readying himself to take a free-kick. In front of him was a sea of yellow forming a wall like Poseidon guarding his throne. The score was 1-0 in Villarreal’s favour. Barca were trying and trying to break it even, but were being repeatedly denied by the Yellow Submarines.
But they knew that it was far from over. How can it be? After all, it is only over when Messi says it is over. He took a breath and ran up to the ball and caressed it with his divine feet. It was like Lord Rama touching a cursed statue of Ahalya with his feet.
Like Ahalya, the ball came to life. It sailed over the wall and dipped into the net to give the Catalans a draw that was woven due to the divine intervention of Lord Messi.
#2 Bernabeu El Clasico (2017)
This one is enough to rob a Madridista off her/his sleep at night. One could truly never understand how much pain this man has inflicted on Madridistas over the last decade unless she or he is a fan of Los Blancos.
This is one of the many times when the Argentine hurt the Galacticos. It was only a few minutes ago when James Rodriguez scored the equalizer to make it 2-2. With only a few minutes left on the clock, Madrid went for the kill because a win would have given Madrid a 9-point cushion, essentially guaranteeing them the title with only six games left.
Messi, however, had other plans. Making an invisible run through the middle, he was picked up by Jordi Alba with a cut-back. Stop, shot, goal. 3-2 to Barcelona as Messi unfurled his shirt to display his name to the Bernabeu faithful.
#1 Equaliser against Sevilla
And here is the most recent example of how devastating this man is in the final few minutes of the game. When the chips are down and backs are stuck to the wall, he comes out not with his arms flailing convulsively, but his legs dazzling with magic.
Messi was on the bench for most of the game, so when the Catalans were 2-0 down and almost out, he was brought onto the field. Sevilla could and should have scored 5 here, but even then, there is no guarantee with Messi on the pitch.
Suarez pulled one back and within just a minute, the Argentine equalised to put the fans in a pandemonium. What a man. Let’s just pray to him and he might just save us all.