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Lionel Messi proves, yet again, that he does not need to score to dominate games

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Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Over the years, Lionel Messi has gathered a certain reputation for himself. One that has multiplied and folded every passing year. Be it his goal-scoring masterclass in 2012, or his ability as one of the greatest dribblers in the history of the sport throughout his career, or the playmaking genius he started to muster since 2015, Messi has always found ways to influence, dominate, and win games one way or another.

Yesterday, Barcelona locked horns against Granada at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals. Despite going 2-0 down in the 88th minute, Barcelona were able to come back from behind and win the game 5-3 in extra-time. While Antoine Griezmann, Jordi Alba, and Frenkie de Jong etched their name on the scoresheet, it was a thoroughly dominant display from Lionel Messi that masterminded their ticket to the semi-finals.

With the game at 2-0 at 88 minutes, Messi picked out Antoine Griezmann’s picture perfect run into the box. The Frenchman, having multiple of his shots saved by Aaron Escandell on the night, did not make a mistake this time around, forcing the ball into the goal. Not more than three minutes later, Messi and Griezmann combined again for the equaliser, as the Argentine’s diagonal met the World Cup winner, who headed it to Jordi Alba to make it 2-2.

The extra-time was much of the same as Messi continued to unlock Granada’s mid-heavy block with sensational passes, ending the game with an insane, unheard of ten key passes (passes that directly lead to shots). Additionally, he also completed 9/13 dribbles, and hit the woodwork on one occasion in regulation time.

Messi was directly responsible for 21 shots on the night, 11 that he took on his own, coupled with his ten shot-creating passes. He was also able to win three set pieces and won 12/19 ground duels. A multitude of bizarre stats which, still, somehow, do not do justice to Messi’s gargantuan display on the night.

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