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Lionel Messi: Star Striker Needs Big UCL Showing Against PSG After Madrid Flop

Jan 9, 2013; Barcelona, SPAIN; Lionel Messi poses with his four Ballon d'Or trophies aka golden ball trophies after winning the World Player accolade for a fourth straight year.  Mandatory Credit: Rondeau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports
Presse Sports-USA TODAY Sports
Ethan GrantAnalyst IMarch 22, 2013

It's hard to say Lionel Messi needs to do anything these days.

Look no further than the picture of his left-leg tattoo (via USA Today) that's circling around the internet to know that Messi pretty much does, says and acts in whatever way is pleasing to him—even if that means getting his son's name and hand prints tattooed on his golden left leg.

His recent runs no doubt suggest he's warranted free reign.

The Barcelona striker is fresh off of a two-goal performance against Rayo Vallecano in La Liga play on Sunday, helping his club win 3-1 in a decision that pushes Barca back up to a 13-point lead over the next-closet side in league play.

He also has 42 goals in just 28 La Liga games during the 2012-13 season.

That being said, April 2's match against Paris Saint-Germain is the perfect opportunity for Messi, the four-time Ballon d'Or winner and man widely regarded as the world's top player, to exact some revenge for three showings against La Liga rival Real Madrid in league and Copa del Rey play.

By and large, Cristiano Ronaldo and Los Blancos got the better of Messi this season.

In two losses and a draw, Messi had just one goal—that's just a 33 percent success rate, which won't get it done against a La Liga rival that employs Ronaldo, a player that many feel is starting to creep up on Messi for the vaunted title of world's best.

After the two's head-to-head performances left Messi on the wrong side of the rivalry, there's no doubt he's itching to get back to the national platform and prove to everyone that the three games against Real Madrid were nothing more than a three-game lull in an otherwise impeccable season. 

Speaking of national stages, PSG poses the perfect threat to both Messi's club and his play in the coming weeks. The side has already received requests for over a million tickets (via The Daily Mail), highlighting the fact that one of the world's best players is coming to town and has a chip on his shoulder after his Copa del Rey play.

Messi got part of that monkey off his back against AC Milan. He scored Barca's first two goals against the side in Champions League play on March 12, helping his club roll to a 4-0 victory that moved it to the quarterfinals of UCL play.

He can get the rest of the monkey off by continuing his most recent hot streak against PSG.

It won't be easy. As noted by STATS on Twitter, Les Parisiens have talented striker Zlatan Ibrahimović to throw at Barca—a player that averages nearly as much offense per game as his counterpart on the other side.

After the pressure to out-do Ronaldo in the three matches against Madrid, Messi should see a similar challenge in the one-on-one battle (so to speak) he'll have with Ibrahimović. The two should make this an exciting match in the first leg of this UCL round, and the match should provide a little more insight to how Messi is going to respond to yet another challenge on the national stage.

It's hard to say that the world's best needs a strong showing for anything.

Messi has graced us with his lightning-quick ball skills and amazing goals for the majority of his career, and will likely continue that phenomenon well into the next few seasons of La Liga play.

However, he's in the favorable position of having yet another chance to impress fans, fellow players and the proponents of his greatness yet again against PSG, which should be the perfect opportunity to make this year's matches with Madrid a thing of the past as Barca aims for both a Champions League and La Liga crown.

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