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Barca faced Real Valladolid on Monday, in a game that had become even more important following Atletico Madrid's loss the previous night, in a game that looked simple enough on paper against a side just three points clear of the relegation zone.
However the visitors to the Nou Camp made life extremely difficult for Ronald Koeman's side and they required a late goal, after Valladolid had a man sent off, to earn all three points.
The first half was particularly difficult for the Catalan giants, with Koeman having to change tactics at half time, and it led Messi to give a rallying cry at the break.
A camera in the tunnel picked up the 33-year-old speaking to his teammates before they went back out onto the pitch. "Let's move it from one side to the other that they receive width to the space. We are going to put more rhythm or it is going to complicate us. You have to put one more gear. Only one goal, only one goal."
Messi encouraging his teammates at half time:- Culers FCB (@CulersF) April 6, 2021
:speaking_head:Messi : "We have to be faster, we have to play with more rhythm, we have to win this no matter what it takes, if we don't do that it will get more complicated".
OUR CAPTAIN :muscle::goat: pic.twitter.com/rYIEDrVhJM
Messi pep talk in the tunnel: "We have to step it up a gear, we have to play with more rhythm. We have to win this however we can"- Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) April 5, 2021
It hasn't been a great season for Barcelona, after being knocked out of the last 16 of the Champions League by PSG, but the win on Monday has now put them in an interesting position.
Atleti lost to Sevilla at the weekend and now, with Barca's win, the gap at the top of the table is only one point having been 11 points just a few weeks ago.
Koeman's side were helped by Oscar Plano's 79th minute red card, and the referee not awarding a penalty from Jordi Alba's handball, before Dembele scored the winner in injury time.
An absolutely MASSIVE goal from Ousmane Dembele! :scream:- Premier Sports :tv: (@PremierSportsTV) April 5, 2021
Barca get a late breakthrough and look set to pick up a colossal win in the LaLiga title race :large_blue_circle::red_circle: pic.twitter.com/4nx3KdldDW
Whilst Messi wasn't involved in the goal, for once, there's a good chance his teammates still had the words 'we have to step it up a gear' and 'we have to win this no matter what it takes' still going through their heads as they battled in the dying minutes.
Koeman's side could be top by the time rivals Atleti play next. The Catalan giants travel to the capital on Saturday for the second Clasico of the season.
Messi might have been missing from the game with fierce rivals Real Madrid, if he'd picked up his fifth yellow card of the night, which he claims the referee was determined to give him.
Now he's available he'll be hoping it's his feet doing the talking in the Bernabeu!
Featured Image Credit: Twitter/PA
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