In one of the most entertaining games at the Camp Nou this season, FC Barcelona topped Rayo Vallecano 3-1 to maintain a commanding 13-point lead in La Liga over Real Madrid with 10 matches left. The game could have very well ended 6-2 or 8-3 as both squads played an open, aggressive, attack-oriented football, creating many scoring opportunities nonchalantly wasted on both sides.
After the low of the two losses to Real Madrid in Cup and league and the high of the comeback again Milan in the UEFA Champions League, it was a comfortable albeit brief return to 'business as usual' in a league that has been decided months ago. The next league game will be played in two weeks, after the break for two-game national teams duty in FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying.
A great chemistry between Messi and Villa provided the fireworks against Rayo. Spain's national team all-time leading scorer is finally his own self again following a long absence and a tentative comeback after breaking his leg 15 months ago. He scored the first goal on a pass from Messi and assisted on the Argentine's two goals. Messi, who seems to set a record every time he laces his boots, has now scored in 18 straight La Liga games (29 goals), an astonishing feat that may never be duplicated by another player.
The world's best player has scored 42 goals in 28 league games this season and at this pace he would likely surpass last year's record of 50 goals. No other player has ever scored more than 40 goals in one season. Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid is second on this year's goleadores list with 27, and Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid is third with 21 goals. Fifteen of La Liga's 20 teams have scored 41 or fewer goals this season.
Messi also increased his career league total to 211 goals, surpassing Manuel Fernández Fernández 'Pahiño' for 7th place on the all-time list. Sometime next season he should become the leader of a list now headed by Telmo Zarra with 251 goals.
Just counting Messi's goals doesn't do him justice. Yes, he scores more than anybody else, but to really appreciate why some people believe he's from another planet you have to see his gems. His 308th goal for FC Barcelona (all competitions) was again one for anthology.
Barcelona is a great team, with many exceptional players, but what makes Barça special is this fabulous player who mesmerizes the world with almost illegal wizardry. People who are trying to compare Messi with any other player, past or present, are involuntarily insulting him. There has not been and there will never be one like him. Like great philosopher and assistant coach Jordi Roura said, "Un viu més tranquil quan té a Messi," meaning "Life is easier when you have Leo Messi."
Vladimir Moraru played soccer for 15 years and has watched it for 60. He hasn't seen a player like Messi and a team like FC Barcelona.