Messi Scores 400th Career Goal in Barcelona Rout of Granada


Lionel Messi shone bright at the Camp Nou on Saturday night as his club defeated Granada by a score of 6-0.  The little Argentine notched his 400th career goal for club and country in the 61st minute from a Dani Alves cross.  The play began with a beautifully weighted long pass from Xavi Hernandez that the Brazilian fullback played into Messi on his first touch.  In typical Messi fashio the career milestone was celebrated without pomposity.  Just over 20 minutes later the Barcelona forward scored his 401st goal after he swiped the ball away from a Granada defender and beat the keeper with his right foot.

The Brazilian prince Neymar tried his best to steal the spotlight from his attacking partner.  The skillful Neymar notched a hat trick thanks to defensive errors from Granada and the clever play of Messi.  A poorly placed pass from Granada set up Neymar in front of goal in the 26th minute and right before the half time whistle Neymar was on the receiving end of a spilled save from Granada goalkeeper Roberto. Clever work from Messi in the 66th minute set up the Brazilian for his third goal of the game as he coolly slotted it into the net.

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FC Barcelona has now started the season seven games undefeated and without conceding a goal.  Luis Enrique’s side played another stout game in the back with newcomer Jeremy Mathieu stealing the show.  The quick French defender darted after the Granada attackers Youssef El-Arabi and Issac Success, winning the ball back on numerous occasions.  While the visitors threatened Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo at times, the combination of Javier Mascherano and Mathieu was not likely to concede.

Spanish media heavily criticized Enrique after his side failed to put a single shot on target mid week against Malaga.  The first year manager elected to start the young Brazilian fullback Douglas over Alves on Wednesday, a move he would later regret.  After Douglas failed to make an impact on Wednesday, Enrique entrusted Alves once again with the role.  The fleet footed Alves was crucial to the Barcelona drubbing as he was given time and space on the right flank to get the home sides attack moving.  The vigor and inspiration of Alves created multiple chances throughout the match and gave fits to the Granada back line.

While the combination of Messi and Neymar has been devastating to La Liga defenses so far in 2014, the midfield pressure on opponents has been equally effectual.  Enrique’s side has done an excellent job of pressuring the ball once they have lost possession.  Granada barely saw the ball the entire game but when they did were hard pressed to retain that possession let alone string together a few passes.  Ivan Rakitic was splendid once again in the scarlet and blue of Barcelona, pressuring the Granada midfielders and tackling with accuracy.

On Tuesday the Spanish club head to France to take on Paris St. Germain at the Parc des Princes.  The Champions League fixture will be vital in deciding which teams rise to the top in Group F.  The Parisians drew their first fixture against the Dutch side Ajax and have been in poor form.  Meanwhile the duo of Messi and Neymar have been heating up and will surely put pressure on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and company on Tuesday.