Lionel Messi has snapped his scoring drought.
After nearly 500 minutes without a goal, the incandescent Barcelona forward scored his 500th career goal on Sunday, even as his team faltered against Valencia, 2–1.
Lionel Messi tallies his 500th career goal for club & country in Barcelona's 2-1 loss to Valencia. pic.twitter.com/oWn3j5Hs5b
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 17, 2016
But while Messi may have gotten back on track, his team is still in a nosedive.
After a season atop the La Liga table, the world's second-richest soccer club has lost their last three league matches—including one to bitter rivals Real Madrid. The collapse couldn't have come at a worse time: With five weeks left in the La Liga season, Barcelona's nine-point lead has evaporated completely, and now they're in a virtual tie with second-place Atlético Madrid. (As if to add insult to injury, Atlético stunned Barcelona 2–0 in the Champions League semifinals last week.)
Both Barcelona and Atletico have 76 points this season, but Messi's side continues to lead on goal differential. The dip in play for Barca has come as Messi has gone through a goal-scoring drought—his 500th career goal snapped a streak of over 500 minutes without a score—and now the team must bounce back if they hope to win the title this year.
Breaking the streak is a good sign for Messi, who scored after a fantastic pass from Jordi Alba into the center of the scoring box. The forward gave the ball a perfect touch to net his 450th goal with Barcelona.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 17, 2016
Messi's 500th goal comes on an auspicious day: the nine-year anniversary of one of his best goals ever. The Barcelona star scored a fantastic goal against Getafe on April 18, 2007, which some fans consider to be the best goal yet of his career: