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Luis Enrique's side were on the back foot for much of the first half, but went on to record a valuable victory thanks to their astonishing Argentine


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One goal is never enough. Sevilla swarmed all over Barcelona in a fantastic first half at the Sanchez Pizjuan, but with Lionel Messi in their team, the Blaugrana are always likely to hit back - even when they are not playing well.

Messi and Suarez strikes sink Sevilla

And that is exactly what happened. Messy up until the 43rd minute, Barca turned to Messi after that - and from a precarious position, the Catalans went on to win a valuable three points in Andalucia.

Sevilla's impressive intensity had seen them dominate the early exchanges, take the lead through Vitolo and press Barca back like few teams have been able to in recent times. But one swing of Leo's left boot changed everything. Set up by Neymar, the Argentine attacker curled a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box two minutes before half-time. There was no real power even, pure placement. And genius. He had done it again.

Messi's magic is like a get out of jail free card for Barca. He has done it so many times over the past 10 years and particularly since Pep Guardiola took over in 2008. Once he had struck, everything changed and any previous analysis can be deemed null and void.

Unsurprisingly, the second half was a completely different affair. How could it not be? Sevilla had been brilliant, yet they had their stuffing knocked out of them by a player capable of the sublime and the ridiculously good when it matters most - and when all appears lost.

M essi should have one Ballon d'Or all to himself - Sampaoli

After the break, it was Barca pushing Jorge Sampaoli's side back and a second goal seemed only a matter of time. And after Messi had fired just over the crossbar with a remarkable run that only he could produce, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner drew defenders on another fantastic foray forward in which he squared the ball for Luis Suarez to fire home the second.

This is a player accused in his homeland of not possessing the leadership qualities to take the team forward and grab a game by the scruff of its neck, supposedly unable to win it single-handedly like Diego Maradona did for Argentina back in the 1980s. But ask any Barcelona fan if that is true and they will tell you unanimously it is not - Messi is a silent assassin and he has rescued the Blaugrana on countless occasions.

Guardiola always said so and Luis Enrique too knows full well that much of his spectacular success at Barca has come thanks to the astonishing Argentine. Even Jose Mourinho admitted that any of Europe's elite would stand a better chance of winning the Champions League with Leo in their ranks.

Riquelme: Anyone can beat Argentina without Messi

That is just how it is. Sampaoli said in the build-up to the game that there should be one Ballon d'Or for Messi and another for everyone else, while Sevilla's goalscorer on Sunday, Vitolo, admitted afterwards: "He's the best in history. He knows how to control games. In the first half we pressed him well, but in the second he made the difference."

In the first half too. Yes, Sevilla had dealt well with his threat, but the moment he received some space, they were punished and Barca went on to record yet another victory that would not have been possible without Leo's tremendous talents.

Where would they be without Messi?

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