Lionel Messi ‘s scintillating dribbling qualities yet again had a profound impact in Barcelona’s entertaining 3-2 win over Real Madrid in the Clasico.

From his central attacking midfield station, the Barca genius wreaked havoc with his ability to persistently beat his marker and create advantageous scenarios for his team through his dribbles.

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Using the Wyscout Playlist and Draw App, below are some examples of Messi’s movement and dribbling combining so well to manipulate Madrid’s defensive structure.

With Real Madrid’s holding midfielder, Casemiro, instructed to stick close to Messi, the Argentine international used his opponent’s man oriented approach against him brilliantly. Messi would constantly drop deep into true central midfield zones, knowing Casemiro would follow him. This subsequently created a huge gap in front of Madrid’s backline, leaving them very exposed without their usual midfield shielding presence. In addition, Messi’s qualitative advantage saw him able to constantly use a combination of his agility, razor sharp ball control and acceleration to turn and beat his man.

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Furthermore, Messi’s individual prowess further disrupted Zinedine Zidane’s men, as many times his players had to leave their slot to help out Casemiro to give double and triple coverage of Messi. However, this unfortunately only succeeded in manufacturing more space for Barca’s fellow attackers to exploit their opponent’s now disconnected structure.

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Messi’s first goal duly owed plenty to his magical ball handling capabilities, for he used his vaunted skill to breeze past a hapless Dani Carvajal and then expertly place his finish home to level the scores in the first half.

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To cap off his tremendous performance, the little Wizard then scored a stunning stoppage time winner, that was also fittingly his 500th goal for his beloved club, to propel the Blaugrana to a vital 3-2 victory.

His statistics suitably backed up his exceptional body of work and how much of a menace he was for Los Merengues, as, on top of his two goals, he successfully won a whopping eleven 1v1 attacking duels, was fouled six times and was only dispossessed once.

The win now moves Barcelona to the summit of the La Liga table, despite Madrid having a game in hand. But with Messi in this sort of form and their rivals facing a tough run of fixtures, who knows, Barcelona might just be able to snatch the league title come season’s end.

If they can, we’ll all look back on Messi’s masterclass in this Clasico as the catalyst for their triumph.

Edward Stratmann

Freelance football writer and blogger he writes regularly about the on-field aspects of the game, with a particular focus on tactics and analysis. In addition to featuring on several football websites, including AS Roma’s and Everton’s Official Websites, find his work at Licence to Roam, a football blog he co-founded in 2013.