There is no stopping Lionel Messi at the moment. Barcelona’s brilliant Argentine hit another hat-trick as the Blaugrana beat Levante 5-0 on Sunday and added more records to his ever-growing collection – as well as overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo on goals scored in 2014-15.
Messi’s comparitively slow start to the season saw him fall way behind his Real Madrid rival in the scoring stats, but the Argentine has hit a purple patch and has scored 14 to Ronaldo’s four so far in 2015.
Leo’s latest treble saw him tie Telmo Zarra for domestic hat-tricks (31) and draw level with Ronaldo on Liga triples (23). But before he had even scored there was another record for the four-time Ballon d’Or winner as he superbly set up Neymar for the first goal and surpassed Luis Figo’s mark of 105 assists in the Primera Division. At hat-trick of records in addition to his treble on the pitch.
Assists records only date back 25 years, but it is likely nobody else has more in the history of La Liga and even if they did, Messi would probably beat them eventually anyway.
Two more strikes with his supposedly weaker right foot and a third from the penalty spot saw him reduce Ronaldo’s Liga lead to two goals (28 to 26) in the race for the prestigious Pichichi prize.
It was also an enjoyable evening for Luis Suarez, who came off the bench to strike a superb scissor kick – easily his finest goal since moving to Catalonia from Liverpool in the summer.
The Camp Nou crowd cheered Neymar, Suarez, the selfless Pedro and even coach Luis Enrique, who has had a hard time since taking over in the summer from Gerardo Martino, but has now led the team to 11 wins in a row.
In doing so the Asturian equalled the mark set by Pep Guardiola’s brilliant Barca team in 2008-9.
“Luis Enrique rotated and the team worked well,” Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Canal Plusafter the game. “It has been a good week and I am happy with these 11 victories.”
The man of the moment, however, was Messi. The Argentine’s hunger remains well and truly intact and he has returned to his breathtaking best after enduring a tough time with injuries and off-the-pitch problems over the last couple of years.
“Messi’s numbers are from another galaxy,” Luis Enrique had said prior to this game.
After it, the Asturian was asked why he didn’t take off the Argentine to hand him a well-earned rest. “Because the idea is to enjoy ourselves,” he said. “And Messi makes us enjoy ourselves to the maximum.”
Neymar, meanwhile, simply said: “Messi is spectacular.”
It is impossible to disagree and, right now, the Argentine is even more spectacular than usual. Playing his 300th match in La Liga, the formidable forward celebrated with three more goals and another hat-trick of records. And at just 27, there are likely to be many more to come.