Lionel Messi broke Pele’s one-club scoring record as he netted his 644th goal for Barcelona in Tuesday’s impressive 3-0 win over Real Valladolid. Clement Lenglet and Martin Braithwaite were also on target as Ronald Koeman’s side won away from Camp Nou in La Liga for the first time since Oct. 1 to move up to fifth in the table. Messi completed the scoring after the hour mark as he replaced Santos legend Pele as the player to have scored the most goals for a single club ever.
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The real highlight of Barca’s win at Valladolid was the association between Messi and Pedri. At 33 and 18, they’re at different ends of their careers, but they’re on the same level. With Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho on the bench, Messi and Pedri linked wonderfully throughout the win, with the latter setting up the former’s record goal.
Koeman’s switch to a back three also helped get the best out of several players. Sergino Dest excelled in a more advanced role on the right, Frenkie de Jong drove forward from midfield and Miralem Pjanic, making a rare La Liga start, added calm in the middle.
Jordi Alba got booked and will miss next week’s game against Eibar. Other than that, it was plain sailing in Valladolid as Barca ended a four-game winless run away from Camp Nou in the league. Moving forward, Koeman must now make big decisions over big players with this performance coming with Griezmann, Coutinho and Sergio Busquets all on the bench.
Manager rating out of 10
8 — Koeman has received a lot of criticism for his tactics and playing square pegs in round holes but his decision to switch to a back three came off spectacularly.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 7 — Didn’t have a lot to do until Barca were 3-0 up, when he pulled off two or three spectacular saves,
DF Oscar Mingueza, 7 — Of the three central defenders, he was the one that stepped forward the most to join in with Barca’s attacks.
DF Ronald Araujo, 7 — Played in the middle of the back three and produced another strong performance.
DF Clement Lenglet, 7 — Took his goal really well and looked more focused on his return to the team after spending the last two games on the bench.
MF Sergino Dest, 8 — One of the big benefactors of the change in formation, with Koeman handing him the right flank. Spent most of the night attacking and set up Braithwaite’s goal with a great cross.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 7 — Produced the type of performance which makes it even more puzzling why he’s been used so little. A quick, astute passer who links well with Messi.
MF Frenkie de Jong, 8 — Has been getting better and better over the last two weeks. This system really suited him and he bombed forward at any given chance and was involved in some of Barca’s best moves.
MF Jordi Alba, 7 — Like Dest, was handed the keys to the flank on the left. Got to the byline time and again to set up chances.
FW Pedri, 9 — Some of the football he produces is so good that you’re scrambling for his Wikipedia page to check he really is just 18 years old. Produced some amazing flicks, pressed relentless, played intelligently and, best of all, is on the same wavelength as Messi.
FW Lionel Messi, 9 — Perhaps his best performance of the season so far. Set up the first goal, played a brilliant pass to Dest to help create the second and scored the third himself to move past Pele.
FW Martin Braithwaite, 7 — Barca have improved since having the Dane as a fixed No.9. Led the line well and scored his fifth goal of the season. Could have scored more.
DF Junior Firpo, 5 — Came on for Alba in the second half and will probably deputise for him when he’s suspended next week.
MF Sergio Busquets, 5 — Koeman brought him on to rest De Jong, who was carrying a knock from the weekend.
DF Samuel Umtiti, 5 — More vital minutes as he returns from a long-term knee injury.
FW Philippe Coutinho, NR — Only came on for the final few minutes but found time to hit the woodwork.
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