Antoine Griezmann was captured messing around in the tunnel at half-time of Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Levante in La Liga on Sunday at the Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi scored the only goal of the game on 76 minutes to secure a much-needed victory for the Catalan giants and relieve some of the mounting pressure on coach Ronald Koeman.
The team went in at the break with the game still very much in the balance at 0-0, but Griezmann didn’t seem too worried as he joked around with the television cameras in the tunnel before heading out for the second 45 minutes.
Messi’s goal ends a run of two straight defeats for Barcelona and moves the team into eighth place in the table. The win also sees Koeman’s men cut the gap to leaders Real Sociedad to nine points. Barcelona has two games in hand on La Real and takes on the Basque team next in La Liga at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
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Messi to the Rescue
Koeman named an attacking line-up with Griezmann, Messi, Philippe Coutinho, and Martin Braithwaite all starting. The Catalan giants carved out plenty of chances but weren’t clinical in front of goal and also found Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez in good form.
Messi finally found the breakthrough after Frenkie de Jong and Martin Braithwaite combined to win the ball back high up the pitch. The Dutchman then teed up Messi to run through on goal and fire his fifth La Liga goal of the season past Fernandez.
Meanwhile, Griezmann played 89 minutes and was replaced late on by center-back Samuel Umtiti as Koeman sought to see out the win. The Frenchman survived a late penalty appeal for handball as Barca picked up just their fifth La Liga win in 11 matches in 2020-21.
Messi Hits 600 as Barca’s No. 10
Messi’s goal also saw the Argentine hit yet another landmark in his career. The strike was his 600th in the No. 10 shirt of Barcelona.
The forward wore the No. 30 and No. 19 at Barcelona before taking over the iconic shirt ahead of the start of the 2008-09 season after previous owner Ronaldinho left and moved to Serie A side AC Milan.
Messi’s strike also sees him close to within just one of Pele’s longstanding record of goals for a single club. The Barcelona captain moves onto 642 goals and needs one more to equal the Brazilian legend who netted 643 times for Santos, according to Mundo Deportivo.
Barcelona and Messi have a busy schedule between now and the end of the year. Koeman’s men face Real Sociedad, Valencia, and Real Valladolid before the competition pauses briefly over Christmas.
The Catalan giants return to action on December 29 at home to Eibar and play their first fixture of 2021 away at Huesca on January 3. It’s a demanding schedule but offers Messi the chance to break Pele’s historic record and Koeman’s men the chance to push up the table after a dismal start to the 2020-21 campaign.