The entire season has led to this weekend. Despite 37 La Liga matches this year, the title will be officially decided in only 90 minutes as Barcelona host table leaders Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
This title-deciding match comes at an odd time for both teams. The two sides have struggled in league play as of late, making it very difficult to predict a winner. But there is one thing that could put Barcelona over the top in their bid for La Liga glory.
Early Friday morning it was reported by the club's official site that Lionel Messi had agreed to a new contract at Barcelona. It was subsequently reported by multiple outlets, including The Telegraph, that the deal will make him the highest-paid footballer in the world. Though rumors of the new deal have been circulating for a while, this news could not have come at a better time.
It has been a long year for Messi. The Argentine forward has missed a lot of time this season due to injury and has yet to really show his awe-inspiring talent consistently since. There have been several matches in which he has gone missing, but that could all change Saturday.
Form aside, Messi is still Messi. He has been given this new contract for a reason and will have the opportunity to prove himself yet again in the title game against Atletico.
In Messi's last few meetings against Atletico, he has been marked out of the game. The likes of Miranda and Diego Godin seem to have Messi's number, which could be cause for concern when they face off this weekend.
However, Messi has built his career on fantastic performances when needed the most. As he takes the field on Saturday, anything can happen, and it would be entirely expected for him to put in a performance for the history books.
There are a lot a questions hanging over Messi at the moment. Will he ever be able to find consistency anytime soon? Can Messi return to his dazzling best? Have opponents figured out how to defend him?
Every discussion regarding Messi lately has been focused on his struggles. Yet, in the midst of a rough season, he has still been handed a new, improved contract, which shows just what Barcelona thinks of their star player.
This new deal was perfectly timed. When Barcelona take the pitch on Saturday it will be the most important match of the season and Messi's chance to show the fans why he is penning a new deal.
To put it simply, Saturday's game should be a massive night for the 26-year-old.
The football world has learned that it is never a good idea to count out Lionel Messi. Time and again he has scored huge goals, won big matches and silenced the critics even at their loudest.
With his newest signature comes the reminder of who Messi is. He's the four-time Ballon d'Or winner, holder of countless records and the pinnacle of football quality.
On Saturday, Barcelona will be fighting for the La Liga title, and you can guarantee that Messi will be at his very best. The Argentine star will be the difference-maker he has been countless times during his career.
Will Messi show his best against Atletico Madrid? Will Barcelona win the La Liga title? Leave your thoughts and comments below!