Messi ends his drought in style
Nobody was really worried about Lionel Messi’s goal drought (even if it was his worst since 2014), particularly as the GOAT came into Saturday’s match with six assists in his last three league games, and he didn’t take long to rediscover his scoring touch.
The first arrived after 14 minutes and was worth the wait. The captain nutmegged Anaitz Arbilla and then lifted the ball over Marko Dmitrovic. Two more composed finishes saw him complete his hat-trick with only 40 minutes on the clock.
Messi being Messi, he then added a fourth for good measure in the final minutes to take his tally to the season to 23 in all competitions. He’s also now five clear of Karim Benzema in the race for the Pichich despite missing the start of the season.
Quique Setien said after the match that the win was “just what was needed,” and he’ll be hoping the GOAT can keep on producing the goods in what may be a pivotal week for coach and the club.
Camp Nou voices its disapproval
Barcelona have endured another chaotic week with allegations president Josep Maria Bartomeu hired a company to discredit some of his players and club legends online.
The president has publicly denied all the claims, but there’s no doubt it’s been another bad week for the club’s hierachy in an increasingly fraught season.
The Camp Nou made its feelings quite clear during the match. White hankies were waved by fans and there were chants calling for Bartomeu to resign.
Whistles and hanky waving at Camp Nou before the match... pic.twitter.com/di53mCyilb— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) February 22, 2020
Bartomeu’s adviser Jaume Masferrer was reportedly suspended on Friday after a board meeting, and there is speculation Bartomeu is feeling the pressure and considering calling early elections.
The fallout from BarcaGate looks set to continue next week, but the Barcelona fans have made their feeling towards the president quite clear.
Braithwaite makes instant impact at Barcelona
Martin Braithwaite’s arrival as Barcelona’s emergency signing after Ousmane Dembele was ruled out for six months came as quite a shock, but the Denmark international made an instant impression on his debut on Saturday.
Amazing team performance. Proud to wear this jersey and get the win in my first game — Martin Braithwaite (@MartinBraith) February 22, 2020
Thanks to all the fans for the warm welcome ❤️ pic.twitter.com/00P9MCTWWE
The 28-year-old was only handed 20 minutes but had a hand in two goals, will probably be disappointed not to have scored and earned praise from Quique Setien and Ivan Rakitic after the match.
Setien said he thinks Braithwaite will prove to be “an extraordinary signing” and will “help the team greatly,” while Rakitic said “he is going to contribute and he is a good guy.”
Meanwhile, Braithwaite joked after the match about not wanting to wash his kit after hugging Messi and how the captain “tried to make me feel comfortable and looked to find me with his passes.”
The 28-year-old’s signing this week came a surprise and has attracted plenty of criticism already, so it was good to see him enjoying himself on his first Barca appearance.