The friendly match between AS Roma and FC Barcelona saw no friendly faces as a physical altercation erupted in the middle of what was initially planned as a fun-filled and carefree game. The turn of events in this pre-season face off had Barca fans and followers shocked as they witnessed how the typically calm and charming Messi transformed into someone akin to Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid.
In an unexpected outburst from the famous Argentinian, the public saw how he failed to reel in his emotions as he delivered a headbutt on Roma's Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. As if the first physical contact was not enough to express his frustration and outrage, Messi grabbed the defender's neck in what appears to be an effort to choke the latter. Before the violence further escalates, a referee stepped in and broke the fight. Visibly still seething with anger, Messi did not break his furious gaze at the Roma star despite the intrusion of another assistant referee. According to FOX Sports, the Barca athlete was given a yellow card for such behavior - a decision questioned by a number of spectators as the violence Messi displayed typically merits a red card.
While the reason for the altercation remains unknown, some fans speculate that the Roma defender might have uttered something completely reprehensible in the ears of Messi as the latter rarely engages in such overwhelming display of emotion. The fight, which occurred at the 34th minute of the match, came on the heels of Barca's first goal (1 - 0). The pre-season face off then saw another two goals from Barca, leaving Messi's team with a sweeping win of 3 - 0 against Roma.
Apart from the altercation, the match featured the spectacular performance of Neymar as well. Fresh off from the vacation he took after his stint in Copa America, the Brazilian winger showed off his skills as he scored the first goal for Barca. Working with Messi who made a cross-pitch pinpoint pass to Andres Iniesta, Neymar smoothly delivered the ball to the net as Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny fumbled to block the shot.
The second goal of Barca - and of the entire match - came from Messi. Despite the confrontation earlier, Messi appeared to be extremely focused and intent on showing that his long vacation did not negatively affect his performance in the field. Meanwhile, the third goal delivered at the 66th minute of the friendly match came from Ivan Rakitic. With an impressive victory against Roma, it looks like Messi, Neymar and the rest of the Barca squad are back with a vengeance - with or without Pedro who is currently rumored to be eyeing a transfer to Manchester United sometime soon.