Lionel Messi started only his second La Liga game of the season for Barcelona on Sunday – and scored a typically wonderful free-kick to set yet another record.
Messi has suffered a frustrating start to the season, sitting out Barça’s first four league games with a foot injury and then lasting only 45 minutes of his first start against Villarreal before being hooked with an adductor strain.
However, he returned to set up Luis Suarez’s clincher in the 2-1 win over Inter in the Champions League in midweek before getting another 90 minutes under his belt against Sevilla.
Suarez scored another stunning goal to put the champions ahead at the Nou Camp, and after Arturo Vidal and Ousmane Dembele had put them in complete control, Messi got off the mark for the season 12 minutes from time when he effortlessly clipped a free-kick over the wall and past Tomas Vaclik into the top corner.
In doing so, the Argentine became the first player this century to score in 16 consecutive La Liga seasons. It was also his 100th goal from outside of the area for the Catalans in all competitions. And, unfortunately for Sevilla, his 37th goal against them alone.
And if the free-kick alone wasn’t enough to strike fear into Barça’s upcoming opponents, his dribble earlier in the game when he drifted past five defenders should do the trick.
Incredibly, Messi completed 10 dribbles in the game, according to WhoScored, a La Liga record this season.
It’s been a tough couple of months having to live without this sort of thing, but we’re happy to report the man definitely is back.
Messi’s free-kick, incidentally, was the 43rd he has scored for Barcelona and adds to the eight (EIGHT!) he scored last season alone. He has scored 15 in La Liga alone since the start of 2016-17, at least nine more than any other player.
As Marc-Andre ter Stegen had said following the Inter game: “With him, things are always easier.”
The 4-0 win over Sevilla was Barça’s biggest of the season so far and moved them above Atletico Madrid into second and to within two points of Real Madrid despite a stuttering start which saw them beaten by Athletic Bilbao and Granada.