Barca’s fortunes have been turned around four-midably as both Messi and Griezmann score braces, with the Barca talisman making it four goals in three matches to spearhead a Blaugrana revival after a 4-0 demolition of Granada put them within four points of the top of La Liga
Barcelona are finding their feet as Messi scored twice to make it four goals in three matches since the turn of the year and his resurgence has coincided with an upturn for the team too, with this being Barca’s third victory in succession.
The Blaugrana are now in sight of league leaders Atletico Madrid, although Diego Simeone’s side now have three games in hand as their match against Athletic Bilbao was postponed due to inclement weather.
“We are calmer,” said Barca coach Ronald Koeman. “We have to stay humble, to keep working and winning.”
Messi’s double, the second a sweetly-struck free-kick that brilliantly foiled Granada’s defensive wall, came between two equally lethal strikes from Antoine Griezmann, who is also savoring a personal revival of form after a hugely disappointing 18 months at Camp Nou.
As for the talismanic Argentine, some had wondered if Messi would ever rediscover his best following an unexpectedly underwhelming start to the season but his latest contribution makes him the league’s current top scorer on 11 goals.
In retrospect, it’s evident now that the 33-year-old’s recovery of form always felt dependent on him rediscovering his own motivation and focus after a foiled attempt to leave Camp Nou last summer.
Barca boss Ronald Koeman should also be given credit for the rejuvenation of players like Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong, all of whom have shown significant improvement in recent matches.
“From day one, my interactions with Leo have been good,” said Koeman. “He has done his best to be in shape, to help the team, like everyone he has struggled a bit for a period, but recently he has been good.
“We’re used to this, if there are a couple of games where he doesn’t score, there will be a couple of people who will be unhappy, but not me, never.”
With a clearly different song now being sung, one can’t help but notice that this doesn’t sound at all like the same brash, puffed up manager who had barged his way in immediately after Quique Setien’s departure last season and had the actual gall to declare that Messi would have to be put through the paces anew to justify his presence in the top XI, besides not having the ‘special’ privileges he’s been accorded all this while at the Nou Camp. Looks like the Dutch boss is now having to swallow the humble pie he was trying to dish out then himself, being in recent months an almost shameless, self-professed advocate of Messi these days.
Barcelona’s recovery still has a long way to run, with Koeman hoping a corner has been turned and at a good time, with the Champions League last 16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain to come next month and a large part of the league calendar still to be played out.
Barca’s first goal was fortunate, with Roberto Soldado’s lashed clearance slicing the ball backwards to Griezmann, who shot past Rui Silva.
Griezmann also instigated the second goal with the Frenchman driving forward to the edge of the area before transferring inside to Messi who was able to find the extra yard need to shift onto his left foot and curl home an impeccably-placed shot.
Messi then made it three up for Barca from a similar position, just on the edge of the box, this time with the ball on the free-kick spot. Pedri had been provocatively intercepted from running into the box and Messi fired the resulting free-kick deceptively low and perfectly into the corner.
Griezmann prompltly wrapped up the demolition of Granada to make it four for Barca, firing in a scooped pass from Dembele on the turn.
With almost half an hour left and his mission already accomplished to perfection, Messi trudged off the pitch to deservedly savor the remaining minutes in solace and quietude as all his soliloquies had already been poignantly expressed on the pitch.