In Barcelona city, Lionel Messi is a household name. if you were to visit the by-lanes of La Rambla, Barcelona’s most prominent street and famous tourist attraction, you cannot miss the numerous shops, which sell the no. 10 Messi football shirts. There is something else about Barcelona. It has Europe’s largest football stadium, Camp Nou, which has a capacity of close to 100,000. The Catalans regard Camp Nou as the symbol of their nationalism. But in a football crazy city like Barcelona, the residents and Barca football fans take the Argentinian Lionel Messi as one of their own. And when Messi makes an appearance at Camp Nou for Barca’s home games, their joy knows no bounds.
The news came the other day that Messi has come back from Argentina, where he had gone for treatment of his nagging back injury. For some days, he was reportedly training to achieve perfect fitness to be able to return to active football. As per reports in news and electronic media, Messi was likely to make his long-awaited appearance against Getafe in the first leg of the last 16 for the King’s Cup on January 8th. There were festival-like scenes at Camp Nou, though the stadium was only half full. All they wanted was a glimpse of their superstar. When the match began, there was no Messi. The expectant crowd, however, continued to wait for their hero.
When Cesc Fibregas put Barca ahead in the eighth minute, there were joyous celebrations,. It was a just reward for Barca’s attacking play from the very start in a smart combination of Sergi Roberto, Andres Iniesta and Fibregas. The goal came, when Pedro sent a beautiful cross to Fibregas, whose delectable header foxed the goalkeeper and defenders to easily find the nets. At half time the score was still 1-0. When the teams came out again after the breather, Messi was still on the benches. In the 63rd minute, Fibregas added another goal, when Barca earned a penalty. Pedro was just about to make a stop-and-turn move towards the goal, when he was needlessly brought down by Valera. The referee promptly pointed to the penalty spot and Fabregas made no mistake as his powerful kick found the top corner of the net. Just at this point, Barca coach Gerardo Martino made a change and the familiar figure of Messi was seen entering the field, in place of Iniesta. The home fans rose from their seats and Messi was greeted to a rabble-rousing ovation. The roaring cheers took some time to die out before Fibregas adjusted himself in the midfield to allow Messi any attacking moves that he wanted. Messi played for less than thirty minutes; but he showed his genius in the brief period. A lovely pass from Busquets was picked up by Montoya for an onward pass to Messi. In a flash, Messi drove hard to the goal to make it 3-0 for Barca. It was the 89th minute of the match. The fourth goal for Barca came in the permitted 2nd minutes after the regulation time. Messi’s characteristic instinct was in open display, as he broke away aggressively from the midfield on the right wing. The defenders and the goalkeeper were clueless, as Messi’s high ball found the nets. The ecstatic Barca fans rose from their seats after watching 27 minutes of Messi magic at Camp Nou. He looked very fit with no signs of discomfort after a long lay-off and recuperation. It is great news for Messi fans, especially with the upcoming La Liga game at Madrid against title rivals Atletico on Saturday.
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