Messi Overtakes Lewandowski With Barcelona Double vs Elche

Lionel Messi

Getty Lionel Messi celebrates against Elche

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi was once again the savior for the Catalan giants on Wednesday, scoring twice to help his side secure a 3-0 win over Elche at the Camp Nou.

The goals mean Messi has now scored 13 times since the turn of the year, taking him past Bayern Munich goal machine Robert Lewandowski and Borussia Dortmund hotshot Erling Haaland to become the top-scoring player in Europe’s top five leagues in 2021.

Messi also now has 18 in La Liga and so moves past former team-mate Luis Suarez and to the top of the scoring charts in the Spanish top flight. The Argentine is now on course to win the Pichichi award for a record eighth time.

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Messi Makes the Difference

Barca had toiled in the first half against Elche but came to life after the break. Coach Ronald Koeman tweaked his formation and brought on Ousmane Dembele for the ineffective Miralem Pjanic with the game still level at 0-0 after 45 minutes.

The changes produced the desired effect as Barca went ahead straight after the restart. Messi combined brilliantly with Martin Braithwaite to break the deadlock and put the hosts in front.

The captain struck again 20 minutes later after a strong run from Frenkie de Jong. The Dutchman showed great strength to run through on goal and unselfishly square the ball to Messi to make it 2-0.

Barca then put the game out of sight through Jordi Alba. The left-back finished a great team move to secure all three points and send Barca up into third place in the table.

Substitute Antoine Griezmann should have extended Barca’s lead late on after replacing Braithwaite but hit the crossbar. The Frenchman had started the game on the bench, along with Dembele and Sergio Busquets, as Koeman made changes to his team ahead of some crucial fixtures.

Koeman explained his decision to change his team at half-time after the match, as reported by Marca.

We were weak in the first half. We lacked the rhythm of the ball. We had two great opportunities. In the second half the depth of the team was much better. It seems that Pjanic is the culprit in the first half but he’s not. There was no rhythm but no one in the first half. That’s why we put Ousmane in the second.

Big Win For Barcelona

Wednesday’s win brought a much-needed three points for Barca. The Catalan giants had picked up just one win in four games in all competitions before the match but keep their slim title hopes alive by beating Elche.

The victory should also instil some belief and confidence ahead of some crucial fixtures over the coming weeks. Barca head to fourth-placed Sevilla next in La Liga and then face Julen Lopetegui’s side again in a week’s time for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. Barca are 2-0 down after the first leg but play the return at the Camp Nou.

Koeman’s side then play Osasuna in La Liga before heading to Paris Saint-Germain for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash. The Catalan giants are 4-1 down in the tie and will need to produce a sensational comeback to progress to the quarter-finals against last season’s beaten finalists.

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