The return of King Messi

Posted by Francesc Tomas

After a seemingly endless 58 days away from his natural habitat, Lionel Messi returned to the Camp Nou during the final third of the 4-0 win over Getafe in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

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Despite the fact that many were questioning whether the quadruple Ballon d'Or winner should have even taken part in a match in which Barcelona were leading comfortably without him, La Pulga managed to turn a decent game into a memorable explosion of football. The 40,000 Blaugrana supporters who attended this ridiculously late kickoff on a weekday were definitely rewarded for their efforts.

The way in which the crowd erupted at the very moment the little Argentinean genius started warming up in the sidelines showed that, unquestionably, Messi is the absolute King of Barca. Having watched every game for nearly three decades, I must admit that find it hard to remember such a devoted reaction from the home fans towards any player after a relatively minor period of absence.

Two goals in just four minutes after two months of absence. Easy to say, virtually impossible for anybody else in the planet to do. While La Pulga's first goal came as a result of being in the right place at the right time, his second was a hugely welcome confirmation that his muscular problems are well and truly forgotten.

Such an explosive, prolonged run from the wing and powerful shot can only be carried out by a fully healed athlete, a dedicated professional who has given his all in order to return to the former best and, in a not so distant future, reach new heights in an already glorious career.

As anticipated by coach Gerardo Martino in the pre-match press conference, Messi was eager to show his innate killer instinct and didn't waste much time in doing so. I would not be surprised if he had even managed to turn the insane amount of rubbish that the Madrid-based media discussed during his absence (mostly related to taxes and fundraising activities, not performances on the pitch) into a positive -- an added reason towards improvement, extra motivation to prove doubters wrong.

Whatever was going through his privileged head, it is clear from the game that it changed from the very moment Messi jumped on the pitch. Perhaps influenced by the supporters' eagerness to witness the Number 10 produce some of his usual magic, his Blaugrana teammates were constantly looking for him in attack.

While I am obviously delighted to have the world's best player back in the team, I personally wouldn't like Messi's return to take away any of the positive impact that on-form teammates Alexis Sanchez, Pedro and Neymar have made during his absence.

If, as it seems likely, Martino can keep his forwards' current confidence levels up in coming weeks and add the jaw-dropping skills and effectiveness of Messi into the mix, Barcelona will definitely give themselves a huge chance of succeeding in all three major competitions this season.

Barcelona are ahead of a potentially crucial clash against Atletico de Madrid in La Liga. With both teams co-leading the competition with 49 points, the winner is likely to get a massive morale boost which could prove decisive in a few months’ time.

Based on his mind-blowing performance against Getafe, there is simply no need for Martino to rest Messi on Saturday. His mere presence is likely to send shivers down Diego Simeone's spine.

Once the ball starts rolling, Barcelona players, coaches and supporters will be delighted to have the best player in the club's history back on form.

Que bueno que volviste, Leo!

The Quote -- "This return is just what I wanted. I spent many days away from the pitch. I felt good in training and that showed during the game. I am delighted and eager to win things, play good football and help the club achieve our targets. It's been a tough couple of months but recovering back home helped me rest both physically and mentally, I needed to get away from all this. Today was great!" -- Messi.

154,000 Cules follow Francesc Tomas at @TomasESPN and Barcablog Facebook for news and opinion notes on Barcelona.

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