Messi celebrates Ballon d’Or in style
Lionel Messi showed off his sixth Ballon d’Or win before the match and went on to show exactly why he deserved to be crowned the best player in the world yet again.
The Barcelona captain scored another quite brilliant hat-trick as Barcelona hit five past Real Mallorca to reclaim their place at the top of the table in Spain.
Messi’s goals also took him past Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for La Liga hat-tricks, saw him overtake Karim Benzema in the Pichichi standings and capped a very special week.
Oh and there was yet another record too for good measure.
10 - @FCBarcelona's Lionel Messi is the only player to score 10+ goals in each of the last 14 seasons in the top five European leagues. Gold. pic.twitter.com/yn60DPoB8T— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 7, 2019
Barca have not been great this season but turned on the style against Mallorca, yes it was only Mallorca, but their first-half display was the best we’ve seen for a while.
Luis Suarez scored a stunner, Antoine Griezmann was also on target and there were even minutes for Carles Alena. Remember him?
There has been talk of Messi’s retirement this week after his Ballon d’Or comments, but on this evidence he has plenty left to give and will be around for a long time yet.
Rakitic isn’t finished at Barcelona yet
Ivan Rakitic was in the starting XI for the third game in a row against Real Mallorca alongside Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets and put in another decent showing.
Barca have beaten Dortmund, Atletico and now Real Mallorca with Rakitic back in the team, and it seems he’s given Ernesto Valverde a selection headache in midfield.
The Barcelona boss gave little away after the match when asked about the Croatian midfielder and his plans for the winter.
“He’s important, he brings us balance and he’s doing well. He helps us a lot. I have no plans [for Rakitic] for the January transfer window because it hasn’t opened. We’re going game by game because it’s about winning and being in form. We’ll see what happens. He is performing to a high level, he’s a great professional.”
Arthur missed Saturday’s game with an injury picked up in training but will be pushing for a place when he returns to fitness, while Arturo Vidal has already warned he wants minutes or will consider his future.
Rakitic had looked almost certain to leave Barca in January but appears to have forced his way back into the reckoning and it would be no surprise now if he did stay.
Ter Stegen gets another assist
Marc-Andre ter Stegen continues to amaze in the Barcelona goal but this time it was his ability with his feet that caught the eye rather than his hands.
The German’s quick thinking, vision and excellent distribution saw him pick out Antoine Griezmann for the opener and give him his second assist of the season.
The World Cup winner showed his appreciation for his goalkeeper after the match.
He told Movistar: “Marc is incredible, he’s good with his feet... he’s like a midfielder for us. It was a perfect pass that left me with just the goalkeeper to beat.”
Ter Stegen’s previous assist came against Getafe back in September, and he now has more La Liga assists this season than a host of big names, including Eden Hazard.
What a goalkeeper.