Lionel Messi Thrived In New Partnership With Frenkie De Jong In Borussia Dortmund Clash
Lionel Messi's return for Barcelona against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League showed early shades of a formidable partnership he could form alongside Frenkie de Jong.
The Barcelona superstar, 32, has been out of action due to a calf injury he picked up in pre-season and he has missed the start of his side's La Liga title defence.
But Messi made his return on Tuesday evening and came on as a second-half substitute in place of Ansu Fati, who became Barcelona's youngest Champions League player.
De Jong, who was snapped up from Ajax for a whopping £65m, has impressed Barca fans in the early stages of the season and relished the opportunity to play alongside Messi.
According to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, the 22-year-old Dutch midfielder linked up the most times with his club captain in the last half hour of the match.
De Jong linked up an impressive nine times with Messi, who also linked up with the Dutchman more than any other Barca player on the pitch.
Mundo Deportivo found that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner passed the ball to the Netherlands international five times.
Barcelona took home a point from their 0-0 clash with Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park.
But the Spanish champions came close to conceding early into the second half when the German side were awarded a penalty.
The in-form Jadon Sancho was clipped by Nelson Semedo and the referee pointed to the spot.
However, Dortmund captain Marco Reus was unable to fire his side ahead as he was denied by a superb save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde admitted after the clash that his side "suffered a lot."
He continued: "They arrived with more danger and we were missing some depth in the last few metres.
"They had the penalty, they hit the post. They are very strong at home, this is the start and it was a tough match for us.
"There were some moments when we lost the ball in important zones and they got three or four counters and it complicated things for us, but Marc was really good.
"And while we dominated the end of the game, we hardly had any chances."
Barcelona will resume their title defence on Saturday with a trip to Granada.
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Featured Image Credit: PA