WINNER – Lionel Messi vs AC Milan – 69%
With four nominations for this award alone, it was already highly probable that Lionel Messi was going to walk away with this award, but when you consider that one of those four nominations was for a Man of the Match performance in one of Barcelona’s best matches, you knew there could only be one winner. And sure enough, with 69% of the vote, Messi picked up the 2012-2013 Barça Blaugranes Award for Best Individual Performance, thus retaining the title he picked up last season with a five-goal haul against Bayer Leverkusen.
Having opened the scoring with a brutal left-footed effort from just outside the Milan area, it was clear that Milan were in for a long night; and before long, the likes of Philippe Mexes and Mathieu Flamini resorted to underhand tactics in an attempt to stop Messi in his stride. In spite of this rough treatment, Messi picked himself up and carried on making the difference, scoring a vital second goal just before the half-time interval, sparking one of Barça’s greatest all-time comebacks.
Ironically, Messi’s brace was arguably only made possible by the positioning of David Villa, who occupied a slightly more central role than he was accustomed to playing with Barcelona, therefore creating Messi the space he needed to truly thrive. With Villa headed for Atletico Madrid, one can only hope that Brazilian striker Neymar can compensate with his talent and trickery.
RUNNER-UP – Andrés Iniesta vs Levante – 8%
The opposition may not have been as glamorous, and Iniesta himself only scored one goal, but with an all-round majestic display against Levante, Andrés Iniesta secured second place in this award with a respectable 8% of the vote. Typically, an away trip to the Ciutat de Valencia can be a tough proposition, particularly after another international break, but Iniesta returned from Panama to earn the three points with a goal and three assists.
BEST OF THE REST – Lionel Messi vs Deportivo La Coruna – 5%
With a hat-trick and an assist, Messi contributed four of Barcelona’s five goals in an entertaining nine-goal thriller against Deportivo La Coruna, securing third place with 5% of the vote.