Messi & Iniesta make football a more beautiful game - and not only Barcelona fans should enjoy them

The Argentine attacker put on an exhibition as the Spain midfielder pulled the strings further back. This was a special show - and Espanyol could only sit back and watch


Sunday was Real Madrid's day. Barcelona's biggest rivals sealed the Club World Cup out in Japan and finish 2016 on top of La Liga. But back at Camp Nou, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta showed that there is more to football than winning titles - and every fan should enjoy them.

Derby win sees Barca close in on Madrid

The pair put on a masterclass in the derby against an in-form Espanyol to win 4-1 in a performance that featured some of the most spectacular skills on a pitch in some time - a combination of perfect passing, link-up play, dribbling, assists and goals. It was simply breathtaking.

Barca's best football was on display as soon as Iniesta stepped off the bench in the second half of the Clasico clash against Real Madrid earlier in December. And it was on show again in this clash, from the moment the midfielder picked out Luis Suarez with a glorious long pass that set the Blaugrana on their way to a memorable victory.

With one subtle swing of his right boot, Iniesta had changed everything. The magic emanating from his feet shows no sign of diminishing, even as he approaches the age of 33, but he will be extremely difficult - if not impossible - to replace once he is gone.

So too will Messi. The Argentine conjured up a mesmerising run that only he can produce for Barca's second goal, scored by Suarez from close range after his shot had been parried by Espanyol goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez, who had earlier replaced the injured Diego Lopez.

'Messi not as good as Di Stefano'

It was a moment of genius from Messi once again, a quite stunning slalom that left defenders chasing his shadow in tight spaces. How he evaded them all only he will know. And once the time comes for him to retire, such skills need to feature in his highlight reels. It's not only the goals.

And he did something similar for the third as Jordi Alba made it 3-0. Espanyol then pulled a goal back through David Lopez, but Messi added another right at the end as he laid the ball off for Suarez, received the Uruguayan's brilliant chipped pass and scored by nutmegging the goalkeeper with a cheeky volley. Incredible.

Ronaldo hat-trick sees Madrid win Club World Cup

It was a stunning show by Messi, with Iniesta in his finest form behind him, and a reminder that Barca will still have a big say both in the title race and also in the Champions League later on in the season.

The Argentine's great night saw supporters of Barca bring up the Ballon d'Or again after their man missed out to Cristiano Ronaldo earlier on in the week in the race for the prestigious prize. And while that debate will run and run, the five-time winner was back to his brilliant best on Sunday.

While Ronaldo hit a hat-trick and claimed another title in Japan, this was a masterclass of attacking, free-flowing football. Together, Iniesta and Messi make this game more beautiful and the way these two play is a spectacular sight to behold - whichever team you support.