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Messi On Fire: Barcelona Wins 4-0, Atleti Next

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In this article, Xoel Càrdenas gives you Messi's goals vs. Deportivo, plus Xoel's take on why consistency is needed if FC Barcelona is going to beat Atletico Madrid this week.

King Leo
King Leo
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Lionel Messi continues on his hot streak, as the little dictator magician led FC Barcelona to a 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruña on Sunday night.

The number 10 got the scoring started in the 11th minute, as a tremendous pass by Ivan Rakitic found the head of Messi and Leo put a beautiful goal past Deportivo goalkeeper Fabricio for the 1-0 lead.

In the 33rd minute, Messi doubled the lead, as a centering pass by Neymar found Luis Suarez, but the ball was deflected, landed at Messi's feet who then scooped it over a diving & reaching Fabricio for the brace.

In the second half, Leo got his third goal, as he sent a bullet toward the far post and into the back of the net for his hat trick.

Messi has now grabbed 30 hat tricks for FC Barcelona: Liga: 22, Copa del Rey: 2, Champions League: 5, SuperCopa: 1 (via @MessiStats).

An own goal by Depor's Sidnei gave Barça a 4-0 lead late and that's how it ended. Jordi Alba, Neymar, and Rakitic had solid games. Andres Iniesta looked better this game. Claudio Bravo made the saves when needed. Luis Suarez didn't have a great game, but he's getting there.

XOEL'S TAKE

A few weeks ago, it seemed like this Barcelona season was going down the drain. After the loss to Real Sociedad, Andoni Zubizarreta's firing, the call for early elections, and rumors of Messi's alleged beef with Lucho, it seemed like the drama would take a toll on the players and show on the pitch.

So far, it hasn't.

In fact, Messi has looked better since the call for elections was made. I'm not saying that this had an effect on Leo's game; I'm just stating the facts that Messi has looked better since Barça's week of chaos.

Obviously, we can praise Lionel Messi all day, as he deserves to be praised. Leo is heating up as of late, and that's exactly what Luis Enrique and this team needs. Barcelona has Atletico Madrid next in the Copa del Rey, and if Barça is going to beat Diego Simeone's team again, it's going to take Leo to lead the team to get past the Colchoneros. I'm not saying that Messi needs to grab a hat trick in both legs of the matchup (although that would be great), what I'm saying is that Messi needs to bring the pressure against the Atleti defense to not only open things up for himself, but to open things up for his teammates. Same goes for Neymar. While Luis Suarez hasn't been the "Liverpool Suarez" all Culés were immediately expecting to see, he has shown signs that he's working on getting the on-the-pitch chemistry down with his teammates. It make take a whole season to get it the chemistry right, as saw with Neymar last season, but if Suarez gets hot, there's no stopping the front three of Leo, Ney and Luis.

Even if Messi, Suarez, and Neymar have big games against any opponent, it's not going to be fully effective if the midfield doesn't have a major presence. This season, we've seen Iniesta be inconsistent, as well as Rakitic. Xavi had been good, and Rafinha has shown signs of brilliance. Sergio Busquets has struggled many times, and quite frankly, it seems like his hip injury issues may still be plaguing him. If it's not the hip, then frankly, his game is down. For Barcelona to win at least one trophy, the midfield needs to be consistent for the second half of the season. With Rakitic's solid game and Iniesta looking a bit better vs. Deportivo, perhaps we'll see a change coming.

Of course the defense needs to stay solid. One player that can play a big part in this is Marc Bartra. The kid looked good vs. Depor, coming in as a substitute. Lucho needs to play Bartra more, period. Marc has Puyol-esque traits in his game, and it's time to play him against bigger, better teams more often.

Lastly, let me just remind you that Lucho is by no means off the hook by this recent Barça run of wins. He's still responsible for the lack of tactics and questionable lineups. The win vs. Atleti a few weeks ago was a good win, but still, Lucho has made too many faults in his tenure, and for that, he cannot be let off the hook. Consistency is not only needed by the Barça players, it applies to Lucho as well. But unlike the players, I don't see any chance of Lucho somehow improving—but that's just my opinion.

Xoel's Final Word

It was classic Lionel Messi, as his hat trick led FC Barcelona to a 4-0 win on Sunday.

Now, a tough battle once again against Cholo and his Atletico Madrid.

With Real Madrid out of the Copa, Atleti may be the final tough challenge for Barça in the competition. As we all know, trophies don't come easily, and Barcelona needs consistency and a full team performance to grab the win against Atleti, not just depend on individual effort. Yes, Messi and the forwards can start the tempo and open things up, but the mids need to make their presence felt as well.

It's Messi's kingdom. Long live King Leo.

PS: Happy Birthday, Pep Guardiola, as the Barça legend turned 44 on Sunday.

Xoel