Lionel Messi Escapes Red Card in Barcelona Win [Look]

Lionel Messi

Getty Lionel Messi talks to the officials

Lionel Messi was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons for once on Tuesday during Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Athletic at the Camp Nou.

The captain went into the game chasing his 700th goal but found himself in the midst of controversy for a challenge on Athletic defender Yeray Álvarez in the 69th minute of the clash.

Yeray was not injured in the challenge and was able to continue, while Messi was not sanctioned at all by the referee. Some commentators claimed the Argentine should have seen red.

Barcelona went on to win the match 1-0 to return to the top of the table in La Liga. Messi set up Ivan Rakitic for the only goal of the game to claim his 250th assist for Barcelona in all competitions.

Controversy a Theme in La Liga

The incident at the Camp Nou involving Messi will not go down well with Real Madrid fans following controversy in their opening matches since La Liga resumed.

Valencia saw a goal chalked off during their 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid which prompted Barcelona defender Gerard Pique to hint that referees were favoring Zinedine Zidane’s side.

More debate raged after Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday that sent Los Blancos back to the top of the table. Vinícius Júnior won a penalty following minimal contact, La Real had what would have been an equalizer disallowed and Karim Benzema scored despite appearing to handball in the build-up.

The decisions made headline news in Spain the next day:

Manager Zidane said after the match he was “annoyed” by all the talk about referees. Barcelona coach Setien has also been asked about the controversial decisions and felt VAR is “not being used correctly.”

Messi Influence Crucial Again

Barcelona can be forgiven for being relieved no action was taken against Messi, although it’s worth pointing out the two players have clashed in similar circumstances before with not action deemed necessary by the match officials.

Quique Setien’s side found it hard going against Athletic until substitute Rakitic popped up with the winner. Although Messi did not score he was once again influential and remains key to Barcelona’s title hopes.

Real Madrid has the chance to move back top and level on points with Barcelona today against struggling Real Mallorca. Vicente Moreno’s side has not won in three games since La Liga resumed and are three points from safety.

Barcelona will now turn their attentions to Saturday’s trip to Celta Vigo before they return to the Camp Nou for another very tricky test against Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.

READ NEXT: Setien: Arthur’s Future at Barcelona is ‘Complicated’

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