Messi equals Xavi record in style
Lionel Messi celebrated matching Xavi’s appearance record for Barcelona in some style on Monday night with another superb performance that yielded two goals and an assist.
The first was a quite brilliant effort to open the scoring early on. Messi showed a superb first touch and then followed it up with a clinical finish into the top corner.
The captain then went on to tee up Oscar Mingueza for his first Barcelona goal before completing the scoring with a low strike to make it 4-1 late on.
That’s now 767 appearances for Barca, 661 goals, 13 seasons in a row where he’s hit at least 20 league goals and now three clear in the race for the Pichichi. Just wow.
Griezmann hits 150 La Liga goals
Messi wasn’t the only player to score a stunner against Huesca. Antoine Griezmann also came up with a brilliant effort from range to make it 2-0 on 35 minutes and end a run of nine games without a goal.
The Frenchman’s strike means he’s now scored 150 goals in Spain’s top flight from 381 appearances.
150 - Antoine Griezmann has scored 150 goals in 381 appearances in @LaLigaEN (94 with @atletienglish, 40 for @RealSociedadEN and 16 with @FCBarcelona), becoming the second French player to reach this milestone after Karim Benzema (184 in 372). Prince. pic.twitter.com/m2RS4mHSwb— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 15, 2021
Ronald Koeman had urged his side to be more clinical before the match, after seeing his players waste a host of chances against Paris Saint-Germain, and his words seemed to have had an impact.
Griezmann now has 13 for the season but doubts still remain over his place in the team, while Barca also continue to be linked with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, and Erling Haaland ahead of the summer transfer window.
Worst penalty decision of the season?
After going 2-0 up Barca saw their lead cut at the end of the first half after conceding yet another penalty. VAR has been in the spotlight all season, once again, and again you had to wonder what on earth they were looking at when they reviewed the incident.
Rafa Mir won the kick after the slightest of touches from Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Yet replays clearly showed Mir had already missed the chance and any contact from the goalkeeper was minimal at best.
The decision to uphold the decision after a VAR check was completely baffling and left Ronald Koeman fuming after the match, according to Sport.
“It’s crazy because VAR have looked at it. They were looking at it for five minutes. It is crazy.
“Marc’s not touched the player. It cannot be a penalty. It’s clearer than water. And it makes it 2-1 just before half time, it’s not fair. I don’t understand how it’s given. I don’t get it.”
Fortunately for Barcelona, the decision did not prove costly but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand what is and what is not a penalty this season.
Great moment for Mingueza
Barcelona didn’t take long to restore their two-goal lead with Mingueza coming up with the third goal of the night, heading home a Messi cross for his first Barcelona goal.
It was a great moment for the youngster, who also has two assists this season, and has been a surprise and welcome addition to the squad this season.
Injuries have allowed Mingueza a first-team chance and he’s certainly grabbed it with both hands, featuring at right-back and center-back and looking increasingly at home in the first team.
Mingueza wasn’t even supposed to be part of the squad this season but he’s proven to be a reliable and important player with a first-class attitude and work rate.
It’s also worth noting that by the end of the match Mingueza was one of seven players to have come through the ranks on the pitch along with Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Messi, Ilaix Moriba, Ronald Araujo, and Riqui Puig.
Barca now just four points behind
Barca’s win of course means the team are now just four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with 11 games of the season left to play. Koeman side are also now 17 games unbeaten in La Liga, a run that has brought the title back into view after a poor start.
Atletico have dropped points recently after a tough run of fixtures, but it’s now Barca’s turn to really show their title credentials with some tricky games in the run-in.
Next up is a tricky trip to Real Sociedad before Barca finally get a breather because of the international break. Koeman’s side then host Real Valladolid before heading to Real Madrid and Athletic and welcoming Getafe to the Camp Nou.
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid aren’t scheduled to meet until May 9, and who knows what the table will look like by then, but the Catalan giants have certainly given themselves a chance.