It’s a triumphant return for Lionel Messi…
Five weeks after being sidelined with a hamstring injury, the 26-year-old Argentine soccer superstar returned to the field with his FC Barcelona teammates on Friday for an open practice that drew more than 13,000 spectators to the club’s Miniestadi.
The four-time FIFA World Player of the Year spent about a month back in Argentina getting treatment to help speed up his recovery after missing several games before Spanish soccer’s winter break.
But now he’s back in near tip-top shape… Messi showed no signs of being rusty during Friday’s scrimmage, notching a hat trick and earning an assist on another goal in his first training match.
The team ended practice with a salute to the crowd before kicking soccer balls into the stands, signing autographs and posing for photos with a group of disabled fans.
Messi’s absence has not impacted Barça’s La Liga standings; the club is tied for first place with Atletico Madrid.
But in his absence Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up for Barca’s rival Real Madrid, and many believe Messi’s reign as the king of world soccer is about to come to an end when the Ballon d’Or trophy is awarded on January 13 due to his absence from the game from November 23 until December 22.
With Messi’s impressive return on Friday, there’s little doubt though that he’ll return to the top of the game for the rest of the 2013-14 campaign and the World Cup in Brazil this summer.