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Monday, 9 March 2015

Messi and Barcelona turning the tide in Spain

Only two months ago Cristiano Ronaldo was receiving a well deserved Ballon d’Or award for his exploits in 2014 beating his closest competition Lionel Messi to the crown after what was in Messi’s books an average season. Five days later a Ronaldo double helped Madrid to a 3-0 win over Getafe putting them one point clear at the top of La Liga with a game in hand over their Catalan rivals.

Barcelona themselves were in flying form that weekend seeing off Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 with Messi bagging a hat-trick in his quest to regain the best player in the world tag from his Portuguese rival. After these 19 games however, Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid were leading the charge for the title and Barcelona were struggling to find consistent form under Luis Enrique.

Fast forward to March and the La Liga picture is looking very different. Barcelona are now the form side in the league and after Madrid’s 1-0 defeat to Bilbao at the weekend, the Catalans lead the way by a point at the summit. While Madrid slipped up Barcelona were in flying form putting 6 past Rayo to overtake Madrid in the title race.

Madrid’s defeat was just another poor result in a series of poor results for the Champions League winners, in their last 8 games they have won just 5 drawing 2 and losing 1. In the same period Barcelona have won 7 losing just the one and are now the team to beat in the title race.

Not only did Barcelona overtake Real in the table but a hat trick on Sunday saw Lionel Messi once again jump above Ronaldo in the all time La Liga hat-trick standings. Messi now has 24, one ahead of the Real Madrid man who has not been enjoying himself as of late with the goals drying up. 2 goals in his last 6 represents a massive dip in form for Ronaldo, far from the heights he was hitting last year in the lead up to him being crowned the best in the world.

Messi meanwhile has been in fantastic form as of late, in his last 6 games he has scored in 5, recorded 2 hat-tricks and racked up a tally of 9 goals. It has led to people asking should he just be awarded the Ballon d’Or for this year right now? He is looking back to his best at the moment and is the driving force behind the recent Barca surge.

His form has been excellent but Messi has not been short of help with the much criticised Luis Suarez in particular on top of his game at the moment. Suarez has scored 5 in his last 6 shutting up the many critics who said he wasn't chipping in with enough goals. Similarly, Cristiano Ronaldo’s poor form is not the sole reason for Madrid’s dip, another former Premier League man, Gareth Bale, has been very poor recently and hasn't scored in 8 games now.

After what had looked like such a promising beginning to 2015, Real Madrid and Ronaldo have begun to stutter and Barcelona and Messi have taken full advantage. The season is still young and you can expect many more swings to the pendulum but with Messi and Suarez in this kind of form its going to take something special to knock them off that top spot.