There’s this little fella over in Catalonia you may have heard of.
Small in stature, gigantic in reputation.
585 goals for Barcelona. 50 career hat-tricks. The numbers keep stacking up, week after week, season after season.
Last weekend against Sevilla, by anyone else’s standards, Lionel Messi produced a masterclass, but by his standards it was just another day at the office.
Three goals, all of them exquisite finishes, plus an assist in Barca’s 4-2 win maintained their seven-point cushion at the top of La Liga with 13 games to play.
The result epitomised their season really; Barca average at best for the most part, relying on Messi to muster a mesmerising masterclass to bail them out.
Essentially he’s winning La Liga on his own – but because we’re so normalised to his brilliance now it’s not even a big deal. Nobody is really talking about it.
Since mid-September, Messi has scored or assisted in every La Liga game bar one – the recent stalemate at Athletic Bilbao.
That’s 19 games. 19. Just try to get your head around that.
It’s a run of form reminiscent of when he scored against every single Spanish top flight team in one season. These levels, this is just what Messi does.
While his team-mates flit in and out of form, the little Argentine has been a model of unparalleled, incomprehensible consistency.
Before the last week Luis Suarez had scored just twice in his last 10 games, that half a yard of pace slowly starting to desert him.
Ousmane Dembele has been brilliant in flashes while Philippe Coutinho’s dream move hasn’t lived up to the billing. Yet.
In midfield Arthur has impressed. The defence? OK at best. They’ve conceded more than Getafe and without the heroics of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen it would have been a lot more.
So all fingers point to Messi, leading by example, carrying arguably the biggest club on the planet to a fourth La Liga title in five seasons.
25 goals – nine clear of his nearest challenger – and 11 assists from 23 appearances is both remarkable yet merely acceptable by his lofty expectations.
Real Madrid are in transition while Atletico have huffed and puffed, allowing Barca to establish a commanding lead without ever really hitting top gear collectively.
Fortunately for them, Messi has.
The Champions League is their holy grail with Europe’s primary competition evading the Catalans since 2015.
But they’ve dominated domestically in recent years, on the verge of a fifth successive Copa del Rey success in addition to their title stranglehold.
It shouldn’t be this easy, but Messi is making becoming Spanish champions look like a walk in the park.
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