It has been five years since Lionel Messi produced one of the greatest performances in Champions League history, where he single-handedly dismantled Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich side at the Nou Camp.
A lot has changed in that time, especially this year, but what has remained is that Messi is still head and shoulders above the rest.
In 2015, Barcelona were drawn against the Bavarian side in the last four of the Champions League, with the Catalan giants getting home advantage for the first leg in early May.
Lionel Messi put on a masterclass performance for Barcelona against Bayern Munich in 2015
At the time, Barcelona boasted a deadly front-three of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar while Ivan Rakitic, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets sat behind them in the midfield.
It was arguably the greatest club team in the game’s history and Bayern had no answer for them, or more importantly, Messi.
The game started off with both Bayern and Barca holding a high-line when in possession, then defending as a solid, cohesive unit without the ball.
As the minutes ticked by, Messi was able to get into his groove, weaving in and out of players while the ball stay glued to his feet.
The play flowed through the Argentine, with Rakitic keen to find him whenever he had the chance.
Messi set up Luis Suarez to score the opener but Manuel Neuer came out on top in the first half
The trademark Barcelona team-press was in full effect at the Nou Camp, with Messi leading the charge while throwing himself into tackles early on.
In what was a goalless first half, Messi should have got an assist but Suarez was thwarted by a brilliant Neuer, who won their one-on-one duel using his feet.
But by the 77th minute, Messi turned the game on its head.
Receiving the ball on the right corner of Neuer’s area, Messi quickly cut inside onto his left foot before unleashing a low, powerful shot towards the German’s near post to finally break Bayern’s resistance.
It was his 76th Champions League goal, bringing him level with old foe Cristiano Ronaldo in the scoring charts. Barcelona were now in full control.
After a goalless first half, Messi turned the game on its head with a brilliant strike to make it 1-0
It was his 76th Champions League goal, bringing him level with Ronaldo in the scoring charts
The goal drew comparisons to his strike against Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley, with the Argentine putting on yet another masterclass on that occasion.
Now Bayern were looking fragile, giving away wayward passes even when there was no signature Catalan press. There was an feeling of panic around Guardiola’s well-drilled team.
Then came the moment he sat down – and, quite frankly, embarrassed – Jerome Boateng.
Picking up the ball from Rakitic around 25 yards out, Messi drove at the World Cup-winning centre-half, baiting him into making a tackle while he scurried back towards his goal.
With the most elegant of movements, Messi jinks inside before cutting the ball back in a flash, leaving Boateng in a twist and eventually on his backside, allowing his opponent to finish off a sublime run in quite some style.
Then, in a moment of magic minutes later, Messi sat Jerome Boateng down before scoring
The World Cup-winning centre-half was left in a twist as Messi sprinted by him
After leaving Boateng on his backside, Messi pulled off his trademark dink to beat Neuer
The Argentine delicately lifted the ball over an on-rushing Neuer to score a sublime second
Rafinha is unable to clear the ball with a overhead kick as Messi wheels away in celebration
Dani Alves (left) piles on top of Messi after the Argentine scored one of his best-ever goals
A marauding Neuer cut off the angle well but Messi bettered him again, beating him with a chip – his trademark dink – to make it 2-0 and put the tie to bed.
That goal was replayed over and over, becoming the latest bit of sublime skill to be added to Messi’s ever-growing collection of magical moments.
Messi did eventually get his assist after playing Neymar through on goal, who unlike Suarez, managed to finish past Neuer.
Bayern would get the better of the Catalan giants in the second leg, beating Messi and Co 3-2 at the Allianz Arena but the damage was already done, as Barcelona booked their spot in the 2015 Champions League final – which they would go on to win against Juventus and claim their fifth European crown.
Luis Enrique, Barcelona’s manager at the time, described his No 10 as someone ‘from a different dimension’ while the world of football went stir crazy over what has just been witnessed.
Messi eventually got his assist after he put Neymar through in on goal to make it 3-0 Barcelona
With two goals and assist, Messi single-handedly torn apart Pep Guardiola’s Bayern side
Now, we find ourselves asking if the talismanic Argentine can do it again when the two sides meet on Friday evening.
Bayern are in imperious form going into the one-legged encounter, with many declaring Robert Lewandowski and Co as the favourites to advance to the semis.
However, when you’ve got a player of Messi’s calibre on your side, a masterclass performance is just around the corner.