Lionel Messi was once again the difference for Barcelona on Wednesday as he dispatched Liverpool in the Champions League.
Liverpool headed to Barcelona looking to secure an impressive result at the Nou Camp and keep their hopes of a second successive Champions League final alive. Messi, though, had other ideas.
After Luis Suarez grabbed the opener against his old club, the game became the Lionel Messi show. Liverpool tried to kick him, and that only appeared to anger the magician, settling his mind that it was time to put the Reds to bed.
That was precisely what he did. He put himself in the right place at the right time to ensure he could finish Luis Suarez’s effort with ease when it rebounded off the bar.
Then he stepped up, 30 yards from goal, and almost effortlessly curled a free-kick into the top corner beyond Alisson to put the game to bed. Indeed, he could have had an assist as well has Ousmane Dembele not fluffed his chance when played through at the death.
It was another magical display from Messi overall. Yet again he proved that he is the greatest of all team, almost singlehandedly dispatching Liverpool and barely breaking a sweat to do so. So what did his numbers from the game look like? We headed to WhoScored and had a look.
First, once again WhoScored had Messi earning a ten out of ten rating from the game. He was the obvious man of the match because of his two goals and finished 1.8 ahead of Luis Suarez in second.
Messi managed 71 touches in total, which was not enough to get into the top five but was just three short of being double the amount Suarez managed. It was also more than Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum all managed.
In terms of shooting, no player managed more than his total of four while he was also joint top with two shots on target. None of his shots were off target, and he was also joint top for shots blocked as well.
When it came to passing, Messi managed 37 passes in total. That was not enough to get in the top five but was the most managed by an attacking player. Likewise, he had more accurate passes than any attacking player in the game and even out passed Philippe Coutinho. He also had one key pass to his name.
Then there was his dribbling. As usual, it was on another level from Messi. He attempted 13 in total, the most by any player in the game. That total was more than Salah and Mane managed combined.
Nobody won more than his nine dribbles, with Salah the closest to him on seven. His overall dribble success of 71% was the fifth best of all the players in the game.
Overall, it was another one of those evenings from Messi. Not only did he dominate Liverpool but he also dominated the game throughout. His performance saw Barcelona come out comfortable winners and now have one foot in the Champions League final.
Their experience with Roma last season means they won’t be resting on their laurels for the second leg. If Messi puts in half of this performance, though, they won’t have anything to worry about.