Messi the key to Barca success

Updated: Mar 10, 2011, 11:35 AM IST

Barcelona: While it was another impressive attacking display of football from Barcelona to knock Arsenal out of the Champions League, once again it was Lionel Messi
who made the difference and showed he is a cut above his

Messi scored the opener and the third goal from the
penalty spot in the 3-1 win over Arsenal on Tuesday night.

David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez with their pace and
movement along with the incisive passing of Xavi Hernandez and
Andres Iniesta meant the Arsenal defence were constantly on
the back foot but it was Messi who unlocked the door to the

He sent the Catalan side on their way with a delicate
flick over the keeper and then volleyed home from close range.

Arsenal spent most of the match encamped in their own
goal mouth but having drawn level through a Sergio Busquets`
own goal they where left seething by the dismissal of Robin
van Persie for his second yellow card, the main talking point
of the night.

Whether Arsenal could have held on to the 1-1 draw with
eleven men, which would have seen them go through after a 2-1
win from the first leg, is debatable but Xavi and Messi
sentenced the game, while there could have been plenty more
goals for Barca.

Even by Messi`s own standards this season is becoming
something special as he has now scored 45 goals in 39 games.
He has eight from eight matches in the Champions League while
domestically he has notched up 27 from 23 games.

The two goals against Arsenal mean that Messi is now top
goal scorer in the history of Barcelona in European
competitions aged just 23.

He has 33 goals, beating the previous record by Rivaldo
of 31, and Luis Enrique, a talisman for the side in the late
1990s only had 27.

Meanwhile Messi has remained remarkably modest about his
achievements and has been helped to keep his feet on the
ground since his arrival at 13 by the ethos of the club to
nurture the youth players into the first team.

Guardiola is the first to praise him but also emphasises
the work of the players around him.

"Messi had another great game but the whole team did
really well and we created a lot of goal scoring chances,"
said Guardiola, in the press conference after the Arsenal

"All the headlines will be about the goals from Messi and
Xavi but in midfield we were very strong with (Javier)
Mascherano and (Sergio) Busquets. We tried to improve from the
first leg and we managed to press Arsenal back during the
whole game.”

Messi`s team-mates were quick to praise him however.

"Once again Leo has made the difference as he always
does," said Xavi. "We see it every week but it is still
extraordinary what he is capable of."

Bureau Report