Lionel Messi was Barcelona’s inspiration with two goals and a pair of assists as the Blaugrana demolished Real Valladolid 5-1 at Camp Nou to go top of LaLiga.
The postponement of El Clasico – which was initially scheduled for October 26 – due to Catalan political tension allowed promoted Granada to become the unlikely leaders, but Barca restored normal service with a crushing victory, led by Messi.
Although Clement Lenglet’s serendipitous opener was cancelled out by an even more fortuitous Kiko Olivas equaliser, Messi was able to drag Barca into a commanding lead, setting up Arturo Vidal and then netting a stunning free-kick.
Ernesto Valverde’s men eased off initially in the second half, but Messi remained in the zone, slamming home Barca’s fourth before then setting up Luis Suarez to round off a brilliant individual display from the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Barca led with just two minutes played when Lenglet’s strike deflected on to the crossbar and in, a kind ricochet sending the ball right to him.
Valladolid levelled soon after, as Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a mess of Michel’s wicked free-kick delivery and the ball went in off the oblivious Kiko.
Messi, however, was in an ominous mood.
The Argentina star delivered a delightful lofted pass into the box for Vidal to nudge past Jordi Masip, before then finding the top-right corner with a 30-yard free-kick in the 34th minute.
Messi was a central figure again early in the second half, darting forward and feeding Ansu Fati into the box, but he delayed his shot enough to allow for a defender to deflect it on to Masip’s leg.
Shortly after Suarez had a goal disallowed for offside, Messi opened up a three-goal lead – controlling Ivan Rakitic’s pass on the thigh before swivelling and blasting in.
Suarez then finished Valladolid off, tucking away after being released by Messi’s incisive pass.
What does it mean?
Victory rarely looked in doubt on Tuesday, even when Valladolid equalised. Sealing all three points allowed Barca to take full advantage of Atletico Madrid slipping up at Deportivo Alaves earlier in the day.
They now have 22 points, two more than Diego Simeone’s men and Granada, the surprise package of LaLiga this term.
Valladolid were not shy about getting physical with Barca, but there was little they could do to knock Messi off his stride. The forward provided four key passes, set up two goals and got a pair for himself – you cannot ask for much more than that.
Fati fails to shine
Starting alongside Messi for the first time, there will have been plenty of excitement from fans before kick-off, but Fati struggled in his duel with Pedro Porro and wasted a fine chance when teed up by Messi in the second half.
Barca travel to Valencia for a contest with Levante on Saturday, while Valladolid host Real Mallorca the following day.
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