Lionel Messi is the best player in football history, according to Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic

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Close pals: Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic.

Barcelona legend Lionel Messi is the best player in the history of the game, according to Blaugrana midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

The Argentine maestro has been in devastating form this season, netting 27 goals in 36 appearances as the Spanish giants close in on the La Liga title and look to advance past Chelsea in their Champions League last 16 tie.

And, according to Croat Rakitic, 30-year-old Messi – who is a five-time Ballon d’Or winner – has proved he is top of the tree when the greatest of all time debate is discussed.

“Messi is the best in history, capable of turning the game around in a second. He is shy because he knows that everyone is watching him.”

Speaking to Antena 3, the midfielder added: “He’s the reference. Our game depends a lot on him. He doesn’t need to talk to understand, a gesture is enough.”

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Barcelona pay for sluggish start against Getafe as first half produced unwanted stat

David Cooper 12/02/2018
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La Liga leaders Barcelona missed out on the chance to re-establish their nine-point cushion at the top as Ernesto Valverde’s unbeaten side were held to a 0-0 home draw with Getafe.

Luis Suarez had a goal correctly ruled out for offside, with Getafe goalkeeper Vicente Guaita then denying the ex-Liverpool striker again in stoppage time.

The Catalans ultimately paid for a sluggish start to the game, one in which they failed to threaten Getafe’s goal in the opening 45 minutes.

Barca were unable to register a single shot on target in the opening half of a La Liga game at Camp Nou for the first time in six years, while they failed to score at home in the league for the first time since November 2016.

Though Valverde’s men remain unbeaten in the division this term, they have now dropped points in successive games and have seen their advantage to second-placed Atletico Madrid trimmed from 11 points to seven.

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Analysis of Yerry Mina after new defender helps Barcelona keep clean sheet against Getafe

Chris Bailey 12/02/2018
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A clean sheet for new recruit Yerry Mina.

Barcelona’s new centre-back Yerry Mina took away a clean sheet on his first start for the club – but it was hardly a result to remember as Getafe kept it solid at the other end.

The Colombian was just as active in the opposition penalty area as he was in Barca’s own as he missed two headed chances and had a further shot blocked.

Here, we take a deep dive into what was a promising performance from a 23-year-old who is only likely to get better.

STATISTICS 

Goals – 0

Assists – 0

Shots – 3

Shots on target – 1

Touches – 97

Passes – 83

Pass success – 94 per cent

Aerials won – 5

Tackles – 3

30-SECOND REPORT

The first Colombian to wear a Barcelona shirt had plenty of time on the ball with which to impress in a game that saw Getafe predictably pegged back.

Encouragingly, Mina seemed to want the ball at every opportunity and almost operated as an extra right-sided midfielder at times – though his early no-look pass was ill-advised.

He was a danger from set-pieces and fired one headed chance straight at keeper Vicente Guaita and flicked the other just past the far post.

Was nearly flummoxed by Angel in a one-on-one in the first half, but recovered well.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 11: Yerry Mina of FC Barcelona heads for the ball during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Getafe at Camp Nou on February 11, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

The Colombian had an impact in both boxes.

KEY MOMENTS

13th minute LOSES POSSESSION – There’s confidence, and then there’s trying an outrageous pass as the last line of defence. His no-look effort ended up at the foot of a Getafe player, proving that despite his neat touches and composure, he’s very much the rough diamond that Ernesto Valverde needs to develop.

39th minute ONE-ON-ONE – The best and the worst of Mina in one action. Loses concentration as Angel springs the offside trap. Gets turned this way and that but nevertheless just about hangs on to Angel using his pace, and his last-ditch block deflects the ball for a corner.

61st minute KEY INTERVENTION – This time shows that he has keen awareness skills when he remains focused. The left flank was not his sector of defence but with Digne beaten, scrambles across just in time to stop Angel from rounding Ter Stegen and shepherds ball out of play.

73rd minute CHANCE – Mina had already shown he is proficient in the air with some fine headed clearance. From a free-kick out on the right-hand side, leaps up and connects with a powerful header, but can only find Guaita’s gloves.

75th minute CHANCE – At this point it’s of no surprise to learn that the South American scored six goals in 28 games with Palmeiras in Brazil – Barca’s very own Sergio Ramos? From a corner this time, shows deftness to angle his header downwards and to the left but goes just past the post.

GOT RIGHT:

Colombian courage: Barcelona is no place for a shrinking violet and Mina sought responsibility at every opportunity. Though Barca’s attackers had a bad day at the office, Mina will clearly be a great outlet going forward with his head and his feet.

Up for the challenge: Mina’s lanky frame could afford to pack a bit more muscle but he does not shirk the physical side of defending. Cleared Barca lines with some thunderous headers, though earned a yellow card for over-exuberance at the end.

GOT WRONG:

Clumsiness: He’s lacking polish – no surprise for a player taking a big step up. Mina is effective but not elegant with the ball, and can get himself into trouble with occasional poor decision-making. At this point you wouldn’t throw him into a Champions League tie. This was the right test to throw him into.

VERDICT: Barca may just have found a bargain in Mina, who was plucked from Palmeiras for a touch under €12 million. Has the raw physical tools to be a success and also something that you can’t teach – mental strength.

There’ll be problems if he starts against top-class opposition too soon in his career so a little patience is required. The signs are that it would pay off.

RATING: 7/10

All statistics compiled by whoscored.com

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