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Messi sets benchmark for Bale, hits hat-trick versus Valencia
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has made a statement to incoming La Liga midfielder Gareth Bale by scoring a stunning first half hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Valencia at the Mestalla stadium.
Largely considered to be the best player in the world, Messi’s hat-trick serves as a formal how-do-you-do to Madrid bound Bale, who recently broke the world transfer record with his move to the Spanish Capital.
The match also featured the reintroduction of Cesc Fabregas into the Barcelona midfield, following a brief cameo against Malaga. This meant that both Messi and Neymar could combine for their start together for Barcelona.
Neymar hit a goal in the 10th minute, only for the finish to be questionably called offside. However, this was soon forgotten as Messi opened up the scoring only 60 seconds later, much to the delight of Barcelona’s away support.
Following a threaded pass from Cesc Fabregas, Messi was sent crashing into the area and past Valencia’s Diego Alves, rolling the ball home.
New 50million-pound-man Neymar connected with Messi for his second, picking out the Argentinean in the middle of the area who was able to slam home his second of the match and fourth of the season.
Barcelona fans were sent into raptures as Messi completed his hat-trick in only the 40th minute, striking after good work from Neymar once more.
Barcelona were far from home and dry however, and were under tremendous pressure following two goals from Postiga – one of which included a stunning scissor kick before half time.
However, the Catalan club were able to see out the rest of the match, and Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino will be pleased at how well Neymar and and Messi combined in the opening 45 minutes.
Certainly, if Barcelona continue their prolific form, then the Nou Camp will be one of the premier locations in Europe to watch live football in 2013.
Following Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid, La Liga appears set for a showdown of supremacy, with the Welshman ready to face off against Messi and Ronaldo for the title of the best player in the world.
Regardless, Messi has certainly thrown down the gauntlet, with his first half hat-trick symbolizing that Bale has some work to do before the Argentinean will be overthrown from his throne as the world’s best.