BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 17: David Villa of FC Barcelona (R) scores his team's eighth goal under a challenge by Andres Fernandez Moreno of CA Osasuna during the La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and CA Osasuna at Camp Nou Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Seven categories down, just one left to go in the Barca Blaugranes Awards, meaning that starting tomorrow the results of the previous categories will be posted in chronological order. However, before we start announcing the winners we have one final set of nominations left to vote for – just what was the best individual performance from the season gone by? Naturally, I think we can all guess who might win, and for what super-human performance, but surprisingly there are only two Leo Messi performances on this list. Rest assured though, all five would be worthy winners. Here are the nominees:
Lionel Messi vs Bayer Leverkusen
Well, we might as well get this one out the way! In a performance very much reminiscent of his four-goal haul against Arsenal, Messi treated us all to a spectacular showing of goal-scoring prowess, grabbing five goals against Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League round of sixteen. His first was a delicate chip over the left shoulder of Bernd Leno and from there, he never looked back. For his second he cut inside multiple defenders before firing a low accurate shot into the right-hand side of Leno’s goal, and then he rounded off his hat-trick with a marvellous, arcing right-footed lob. The fourth goal had a hint of fortune about it as Messi pounced upon an error from Leno, but it was equally down to his exceptional predatory instincts, and to cap off the extra-ordinary showing he blasted home a fifth from just outside the area.
Pedro vs Athletic Bilbao
The most recent performance on our list also featured on the best team performance nominations, but key to that remarkable showing was a certain Spanish winger. This certain Spanish winger is something of an "opinion divider" amongst Barcelona fans with many fully behind his ability, and others worried that he was a one-season wonder. That winger is of course Pedro and there is no denying that he was back to his best in the Copa del Rey final. His first goal served as the breakthrough, and his second was the game-clincher – the final nail in the coffin if you will.
Lionel Messi vs Valencia
Back in February, Barcelona looked out of the title race. A 3-2 defeat to Osasuna had all but handed the league title to Real Madrid, although there was still that slim chance of a comeback. Morale was low, albeit recovering considering the 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen, meaning there were still doubts when Valencia came to visit the Camp Nou. Lionel Messi proved those doubts to be unfounded. His four goals and an assist propelled the Blaugrana to a crucial 5-1 win over tough opposition in arguably the best individual performance of the league season.
David Villa vs Osasuna
Perhaps the surprise inclusion on this list, Villa’s two goals and an assist against Osasuna in an 8-0 win was not even a game-high total as Messi claimed a hat-trick with two assists. However, it was one of those rare occasions where David Villa performed to his Valencia best, and as the season dragged on, it was a reminder of what Barcelona were missing. His first goal was a real striker’s finish, as he rounded the keeper before slotting home with his weaker foot and his second was the perfect example of why Barcelona paid upwards of €35 million for his services. Receiving a square pass from Cesc Fàbregas, Villa remained calm, took a touch to call the keeper’s bluff and finished it with ease. Imagine what would have happened if he would have played against Chelsea...
Thiago Alcântara vs L’Hospitalet
Thiago peaked early in the season, arguably with his goal and two assists in the opening game against Villarreal, but he did have his moments of brilliance throughout the season, with his performance against L’Hospitalet the standout. Granted, the opposition were not the greatest, but Thiago was arguably the man of the match despite sharing the field with the likes of Cesc, Xavi and Iniesta. His first goal was the third of the night and the sole reason for this goal was Thiago’s intelligent work-rate. Pressing high up the field, he forced a mistake from a Hospitalet defender, shimmied past the goalkeeper and emphatically thumped the ball into the net. For his second, Thiago calmly tucked away a penalty, and all throughout the game he not only displayed his talent, but also his work-rate.
If by any chance you missed any of the award categories or either of the first two individual player season reviews then click on the Season in Review category on the side of the page, or at the top of the article.