In case you were progressing through your Saturday wondering if, in fact, Barcelona is still one of the best club teams in the world, well … stop it. In the course of a 6-0 demolishing of Rayo Vallecano, Lionel Messi passed a legend on the all-time La Liga scoring charts, missed what would have been among the finest of his many goals, and Neymar marked his return from injury with a thunderbolt strike.
Where to begin? How about with the Argentine. After his month-long layoff following a hamstring injury in the early part of the year, it's taken Messi some time to get back to top form. But on the basis of his performance against Rayo, he seems to be getting there.
He started with this lovely turn that hit the post…
…then equalled Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano with this nice chip on a breakaway.
He then passed Di Stefano and moved into a tie with another Real Madrid legend (Raul) with his 228th La Liga goal.
(Both GIFs courtesy 101 Great Goals)
Messi is now just six goals behind Hugo Sanchez for second place all-time, but still has 23 goals to go to catch up Spanish great Telmo Zarra, whose record of 251 goals has stood since the 1950s.
In any other game, Neymar scoring a thunderbolt strike on the run (perhaps topping Mario Balotelli's from the day before?) on his return from injury would have been the highlight. But as it is, it'll have to close out out this post like it closed out the game: spectacularly.
With the win, Barcelona move provisonally into a tie with Atlético Madrid at the top of the La Liga table. Real Madrid are three points behind the pair of them, but they can make up the gap when they take on Getafe on Sunday.