Lionel Messi makes Ballon d'Or case - Seven Deadly Stats from Barcelona 3-0 Las Palmas

Aditya Devavrat 21:02 01/10/2017
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The protests and the government clampdown in Barcelona due to the Catalan referendum vote marred the buildup to Barcelona’s La Liga clash with Las Palmas, with the game ultimately being played behind closed doors due to safety issues.

There were suggestions that the game might be called off entirely, but once the fixture got underway at an eerily quiet Camp Nou, the players made their statement on the pitch, as Barcelona made a slow start before Sergio Busquets opened the scoring in the second half and Lionel Messi followed up with a brace.

Here are Seven Deadly Stats from the game…

BARCELONA LOSE FIRST-HALF POSSESSION GAME

While the obsession with possession football has waned slightly at the Camp Nou, it’s still usually a foregone conclusion that Barcelona will dominate the ball, especially at home.

Las Palmas must have missed the memo, however. They looked dangerous throughout the first half, and ended the period having controlled the ball, as Barcelona had 45% of possession in the first half.

Even after the home side went through the gears in the second half to win the game, they ended up with just 49% of the ball.

RARE GOAL FROM BUSQUETS

In a tight game like this one was in the first half, Busquets’ role is usually to make sure Barcelona’s passing game keeps on ticking, so that the pressure on the opposition is relentless.

He fulfilled his duties on that score, no doubt, but he found a new way to break the game open this time, in a way he rarely does.

TWO OF BARCA’S BEST COMBINE FOR FIRST TIME

Given how long Messi and Busquets have been playing together, most would expect that Messi would have assisted his teammate for a goal at some point during their Barcelona careers, even after taking Busquets’ lean goalscoring record into account.

Surprise, surprise, however – Messi still has career firsts to bring up, and this was one of them.

MESSI BRINGS UP ANOTHER MILESTONE

While it may have been the first time he’d set up a Busquets goal in the league, his overall assist numbers are enough to cement him as one of Barcelona’s best-ever playmakers.

When Barcelona score, it’s a safe bet that Messi been involved in some way. And now he’s brought up a landmark number.

Then, of course, there’s his goalscoring record, and his general magical play.

AND CONTINUES STUNNING SCORING FORM

Cristiano Ronaldo remains the frontrunner for the Ballon d’Or thanks to his feats in the latter stages of last season’s Champions League, perhaps deservedly so given his stunning goalscoring form led to his team winning the competition.

The case for the opposition, however, is by no means weaker.

Messi’s been in superb form in 2017, and his scoring stats back him up. It’s not often someone will score 45 goals (and counting) and not win the top awards.

Ronaldo coming up big in the big moments, and winning more trophies, gives him the edge over Messi, but the Argentine is making sure the decision will be a tough one.

IS THE PICHICHI RACE ALREADY OVER?

Luis Suarez is on two league goals for the season. So is Antoine Griezmann. Ronaldo has yet to open his account in La Liga.

Messi, meanwhile, is on 11 after Sunday’s brace.

Ronaldo and Suarez are both capable of extraordinary goalscoring feats, but with both having missed time this season, through suspension and injury respectively, do they already have too much to do to catch the Barcelona star?

BARCA IN FLYING FORM

Barcelona started this season in crisis, while Real Madrid were supposed to run away with the league.

Instead, the Blaugrana will end Sunday at no worse than eight points ahead of Madrid, and they’ve got a healthy five-point lead at the top of the table.

They’ve conceded just two goals during their perfect start, while scoring a whopping 23.

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