The captain went to conflict with sporting director Eric Abidal through the week but he responded by taking his frustration out on Real Betis on Sunday. Lionel Messi was frustrated recently, in a number of distinct ways.
Away from the field, the Barcelona captain lashed out in sporting director Eric Abidal during the week, having been left bitterly unhappy with the Frenchman’s claim that the squad had been guilty of not working hard enough under former coach Ernesto Valverde.
On the subject, the Argentine attacker was playing through a thigh problem, which has stopped him from hitting his absolute best level, together with Quique Setien’s tougher training patterns not just helping.
The generally mild-mannered Messi was involved in a training-ground quarrel with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen a few weeks ago, as tensions rose around the club.
And on a broader scale, he was unimpressed with Barcelona’s failure to resign Neymar last summer, not because of Barca’s Champions League drought, which currently stretches back five years to 2015.
At this time, he’s also being frustrated in front of the target at La Liga, which is usually where he’s most comfortable. Having a personal listing of 11 shots without scoring against Valencia, followed by a further 10 unsuccessful efforts against Levante, the forward hoped to break that ignominious and unusual run against Real Betis on Sunday.
Barcelona won 3-2 however Messi had four more shots with no scoring, including a one-on-one. He was upset with the refereeing too. Brought down after without a filthy given shortly before Betis started the scoring, then tugged back in the box in the conclusion but without getting a penalty, the forward looked totally bemused by the officers.
And he had been the game’s critical participant, underlining that there is actually no good time to confront Messi.
Legendary AC Milan boss Arrigo Sacchi once said that there wasn’t any way to stop Diego Maradona; he would score against you or create a target. In Seville, Messi created three, to make it five assists in two league matches.
Messi’s strangely poor ending has surfaced with Setien’s advent as Valverde’s successor also it could be argued that Barca are, generally speaking, attempting to rediscover their old sport under the new boss.
Giving Setien the reins has been like providing a high-speed remote-control car to a child. He does not understand how to fully control it yet, isn’t sure what all the buttons do, however, he knows he would like to go quickly.
If that means crashing several times along the way, then so be it. They definitely went off-track quite a little on what was Setien’s eagerly anticipated return to Betis.
The first half, in particular, was like a game of pinball, with Barcelona dominating in how Setien desires in certain phases but losing their flow in other people, which made them vulnerable.
Betis took advantage. They moved ahead after only six minutes when Clement Lenglet managed Nabil Fekir’s campaign in the area and Sergio Canales sent Marc-Andre ter Stegen the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
However, Barcelona waltzed down the other end and struck back almost instantly, with Messi cutting on an ideal ball to Frenkie de Jong, who ended coolly.
Betis moved ahead through Fekir, who fired at a low effort from distance following the defence – Samuel Umtiti particularly at fault – stood off him.
Barcelona were trashed but swung back anyway, scoring the equaliser shortly as the period approached. Again, Messi was the supplier, whipping over a free kick that Sergio Busquets converted.
The identical thing occurred in the second half when Messi twisted and flipped at the area but could only find the goalkeeper’s gloves with his shot.
It just didn’t feel like that night, and yet, in the exact same time, it had been, with his looped free-kick led in by Lenglet for Barcelona’s winning target.
Fekir and Lenglet were sent off in the frenzied stages of a struggle to remember however there was no taking the shine off this victory for the visitors.
It was a big boost for Messi too, as he revealed once more that while it is occasionally possible to prevent him scoring, it is not possible to prevent him from shining, and no matter how frustrated he gets.