Messi must rise above plaguing off-field politics ahead of Villarreal clash

From winning a seventh Copa Del Rey title to THAT European Super League saga and a seven goal thriller at the Nou Camp - it’s certainly been an interesting week for Lionel Messi.

Last Saturday, the Argentine was instrumental in the club's 4-0 cup final victory. Messi bagged a brilliant brace as Blaugrana breezed past Bilbao. This included a marvellous team goal which earned plaudits throughout the world of soccer.

Emulating last weekend's performance, Messi was on hand with another brace in a 5-2 thrashing of Getafe this past midweek. He selflessly sacrificed a hat-trick to give a penalty to Antoine Griezzman.

html) */?>

Although on-pitch matters may be back on track in Catalonia, they continue to be marred by politics off it. Club President Joan Laporta revealed that Barcelona will remain in the European Super League alongside Real Madrid, despite 10 of the competition's 12 clubs opting out of it.

In the Premier League, a unanimous opposition to the proposal of the tournament momentarily unified the English footballing pyramid. In Spain, undeniable stubbornness has further polarised the country's top three clubs with the rest of La Liga.

Barcelona celebrate the Spanish Cup final win
Barcelona celebrate the Spanish Cup final win

Despite winning the Copa del Rey, there is no time for Messi and co. to rest on their laurels as they perilously pursue Atletico and Real Madrid in an enthralling three horse title race.

In a week where football appeared to fall apart, and then somewhat piece itself back together again, it's crucial that Barcelona piece together their valiant title push - the fate of which will heavily rely on the magic of Messi.

Tip of the Fixture

With 25 goals and nine assists so far this season, Messi leads both La Liga's goal-scoring and assist charts as his exceptional season continues.

Messi has already scored a brace against Villarreal on four occasions and he is 3/1 to score two or more goals with Paddy Power.

Stat attack

Messi has an exceptional win record against El Submarino emerging victorious in 19 of the 27 encounters; averaging a respectable win percentage of 70%.

The Argentine has recorded more than one goal contribution against Villarreal on eight occasions, while also notching up a brace on four occasions. Interestingly, he has never scored a hat-trick against them.

Both of Messi's losses against the side have come at the Estadio de la Ceramica - both occurred in 2007, meaning Barca have been undefeated there for 14 years.

Lionel Messi battles with Valladolid
Lionel Messi battles with Valladolid

Barcelona have never lost a game against Villarreal that Messi has scored in. The aforementioned defeats saw him produce zero goals and one assist in 180 minutes of football.

Seven goals clear of Neymar in second and nine ahead of Patrick Kluivert in third, Messi is the top scorer in the fixture by a great margin.

Amazingly, Messi has 10 goals and six assists in his last 10 games across all competitions, averaging a goal contribution every 1.6 games. He will be determined to continue this as Blaugrana fight tooth and nail to reclaim the league title.

Memorable matches

Barcelona 4-1 Villarreal (La Liga - May 6, 2017)

A magisterial Messi performance saw him exceed 50 goals in a season as he scored a superb brace to inspire a 4-1 victory for Blaugrana. Barca moved three points clear at the top of La Liga with just two games to go.

The Argentine was also largely influential in his side's opening goal, picking out Neymar with a pass that allowed the Brazilian to do what he does best and give them the lead.

Barcelona's Leo Messi celebrates after scoring against Villarreal in 2017
Barcelona's Leo Messi celebrates after scoring against Villarreal in 2017

Despite Villarreal equalising through Cedric Bakambu, Luis Enrique's side seemed unfazed as they responded emphatically with three more goals. The first of which was scored by Messi, who struck a low-angled shot past Fernandez.

After Luis Suarez scored the team's third goal, Messi rounded off a rampant run-out for Blaugrana with an exquisitely chipped penalty to take his seasonal goal tally to an outstanding 51.

Barcelona 4-0 Villarreal (La Liga - September 27, 2020)

Messi scored a penalty as Barcelona finally got off to winning ways under Ronald Koeman.

Wondrous wonderkid Ansu Fati gave Blaugrana a comfortable 2-0 lead, scoring the side's opening two goals following brilliant link-up play with Jordi Alba and Philippe Coutinho.

html) */?>

Following an inspiring performance throughout the opening half-hour, Messi's persistence was rewarded when he converted a penalty on the 35th minute mark to all but seal the deal.

By the half-time whistle, they had scored their fourth and final goal. A testing low-driven cross from Messi was bundled into the back of the Villarreal net by one of their own, with Pau Torres being the unfortunate man in question.

Barcelona 5-1 Villareal (La Liga - May 9, 2020)

Barcelona moved to within two games of an iconic unbeaten season, breezing past Villareal in a fabulous display to remain top of the league by 15 points.

The hosts went 2-0 up within the first 20 minutes. Philippe Coutinho gave them the lead before Paulinho doubled it just five minutes later with a simple tap-in.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi surrounded by Villarreal players
Barcelona's Lionel Messi surrounded by Villarreal players

Following an inch-perfect pass from Andres Iniesta, Messi was in amongst the goals. He slotted the ball past Asenjo to all but secure three points by half-time.

Sansone's consolation nine minutes into the second-half remained exactly that as Barcelona scored two late goals through Ousmane Dembele, who rounded off another stellar display in a successful season.

READ MORE: Premier League race for the top four: Favourites for Europe, wildcard picks and more...

Latest Soccer Videos