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Lionel Messi's hat trick vs. Betis wasn't his best, but a timely reminder of how brilliant he is

Shaka Hislop chooses not to get drawn into comparisons between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi following the Argentine's 33rd La Liga hat trick.

It's a remarkable thing when a sportsperson produces a moment of exceptional all-time achievement, but the reaction to that excelsior moment becomes almost as powerful as the event itself. I'd argue that Lionel Messi fused those wonderful, human themes together on Sunday night: immense action followed by extraordinary reaction.

In my lifetime there have been many examples. Not identical, mind you, but moments that live on for reasons other than the athletic achievement no matter how important...

 By Shaka Hislop

Power Rankings: Messi ensures Barcelona stay in first, Liverpool climb

Shaka Hislop chooses not to get drawn into comparisons between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi following the Argentine's 33rd La Liga hat trick.

Thanks to Lionel Messi's hat trick, Barcelona went 10 points clear in Spain at the weekend and stay at No. 1 in my Top 10!

Dropping out: 

Agree? Disagree? Let us know, and watch Shaka defend his picks on ESPN FC TV, which airs daily on ESPN+.

ESPN FC  By ESPN

Messi gets standing ovation, tops Player Power Rankings ahead of James

Shaka Hislop chooses not to get drawn into comparisons between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi following the Argentine's 33rd La Liga hat trick.

It's not often a player gets a standing ovation ... from a stadium full of opposing fans. Such a plaudit is enough to top our Player Power Rankings. Our global editors pick their top 10 performers from the weekend.

Also receiving votes: Luis Alberto (Lazio), Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao).

Let us know what you think of the countdown by commenting on Twitter using #ESPNFCrankings.

Lionel Messi routinely delivers magic for Barcelona, but his third goal vs. Betis was interstellar

Here are three sentences whose words do no justice to the majesty of their content: In the depths of a molecular cloud, a star is born. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Lionel Messi chipped Pau Lopez in Barcelona's 4-1 win at Real Betis on Sunday.

All three of the above sentences represent events that are noteworthy on an intergalactic scale. They all mark moments where aliens, sitting peacefully in their suburban homes, looked up to the skies from their Sunday papers and said: "Things done changed."

Though...

By the numbers: Messi's 51st hat-trick, Salah's long scoreless streak

Lionel Messi celebrates after putting Barcelona ahead 1-0 in their Champions League tie with Lyon.
Lionel Messi scored his 33rd La Liga hat-trick in the course of Barcelona's 4-1 win away to Real Betis.

There's Lionel Messi, and then there's the rest. The weekend's football in Europe seemed to suggest so, although one must put this helpful caveat: Juventus gave Cristiano Ronaldo the weekend off.

Here are the best numbers from the weekend:


33

Lionel Messi scored his 33rd La Liga hat-trick in the course of Barcelona's 4-1 win away to Real Betis, also his 45th hat-trick for Barcelona across all competitions. He also has six hat-tricks for the Argentina national team, taking his overall tally in competitive...

Lionel Messi bags hat trick, Luis Suarez impresses as Barcelona thrash Real Betis

Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez put on a show for the fans at Benito Villamarín Stadium, leading Barcelona to an easy victory.
Shaka Hislop chooses not to get drawn into comparisons between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi following the Argentine's 33rd La Liga hat trick.

Lionel Messi scored a stunning hat trick as Barcelona beat Real Betis 4-1 on Sunday to move 10 points clear at the top of La Liga.

Messi opened the scoring in the first half with an arrowed free kick into the top corner and added Barca's second just before the break after a brilliant no-look back-heel assist from Luis Suarez.

- Messi humbled by Betis fans' standing ovation

Suarez, who missed two brilliant chances to further extend Ernesto Valverde's side lead, eventually added the third with a...