Messi Brace And Rakitic Rocket Lift Barca Over Spurs

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       Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham should relish playing Barcelona

Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to an enthralling victory over Tottenham at Wembley which condemned the English side to a second Champions League defeat from two games this season.

Lionel Messi may have missed out on FIFA's "The Best" and probably won't win the Ballon d'Or, but against Tottenham on Wednesday night he proved he's in a league of his own. Although the Lilywhites' boss will take some comfort from his side's fighting spirit in the second-half.

In total he has played 176 minutes from ten games by Barcelona and started only against Girona where he played nearly an hour and provide an assist for Messi and Athletic where he produced a strong display.

However, while those moments encapsulated Messi's individual brilliance, his ruthless streak was showcased shortly afterward when, with the score 2-1, he finished off a move of beauty to restore Barcelona's two-goal advantage.

"Messi had more space in the second half and that is hard to stop", Pochettino said. We were handicapped against Barcelona after conceding after one minute.

In recent weeks there have been murmurs that Barcelona have been struggling after three games without a win in La Liga. He rushed off his line to pressure Jordi Alba, who cut back for Coutinho. His floated pass was chested down by Luis Suarez to Coutinho whose volley sliced up in the air before the quick-thinking Brazilian hooked the ball back to Rakitic who rifled a picture-perfect right-foot volley in off the post from 25 yards.

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But question marks do remain about their ability to seriously challenge for the Champions League title this season, despite making it two wins from two to open up group play.

Champions League football by February?

A lot of Barcelona's players, brilliant though they still are, are getting on in years.

Spurs pushed hard for the equaliser and almost had it in the 84th minute when Lucas Moura broke free in the Barcelona area only to see his shot from 8 yards out deflect off Lenglet and out of touch.

Pochettino has a host of injury problems to cope with, as Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen, Serge Aurier and Mousa Dembele are all out. Tottenham face back-to-back games against PSV Eindhoven with both teams having lost their first two matches.

Had Spurs had a fully fit squad to choose from, they could have nicked a point against Barcelona, or maybe even more.

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