Football brings joy to billions of people around the globe, but nothing else quite gets us going like a Lionel Messi playmaking masterclass.
The reason people hold Messi in such high regard goes beyond any statistics or metrics. He is so often able to conjure up moments of genius and leave you scratching your head.
PSG’s game against Marseille was arguably the biggest of their season so far. Having recently lost to them in the French Cup, this game was about revenge.
The pressure on Christophe Galtier had almost reached boiling point over the last month with a first-leg loss against Bayern Munich and a premature exit from the cup not helping his case.
Pressured situations are where Messi is at his most comfortable though, we only have to think back to his World Cup heroics to relive some of his greatest performances.
There had been plenty of talk around Marseille too. In four appearances against the French club, Messi had never scored against them as they have proven to be his bogey side since joining PSG.
With Neymar not around for this fixture, it was all about Messi and Kylian Mbappe and they wasted no time in getting the party started.
Messi sent Mbappe through on goal with a well-timed through ball to make it 1-0, before Mbappe returned the favour and Messi scored the second goal of the game.
The Argentine was unplayable throughout the evening as everything he touched seemed to come off. With three big chances created, two successful dribbles and three goal contributions, this was vintage Messi.
His finest moment of the match came in the second half as he and Mbappe managed to link up with one another telepathically.
Without breaking a sweat, Messi beautifully scooped the ball over the entire Marseille defence and Mbappe almost perfectly re-enacted his goal from the World Cup final with a superbly struck volley.
This was vintage Messi.
PSG are playing at this point
What a goal this. Worked by Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe 🔥 pic.twitter.com/LoJcdpkFrz
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 26, 2023
PSG have often been accused of crumbling in the big moments, but the significance of their latest Ligue 1 victory cannot be underestimated.
Had Marseille won, they would have only been two points behind PSG in the title race. Mbappe and Messi rose to the occasion though and PSG could do with some more of their magic in the reverse leg against Bayern Munich.
The game was also a historic one for the PSG duo as Messi scored his 700th club goal and Mbappe scored his 200th PSG goal to equal Edinson Cavani’s club record.
“The way the team played tonight gave us a sense of relief,” explained Galtier after the match on Amazon Prime. “If we can play like this at Marseille’s Velodrome, we can play like this everywhere.”
When Messi is in the mood, there is no stopping him. With Neymar out of the picture at the moment, the relationship between Messi and Mbappe has only gotten stronger.
If the 35-year-old continues to churn out more of these masterful performances, then there is surely an eighth Ballon d’Or waiting for him.
By Ben Stewart