WATCH: Should Messi have seen red for this challenge?

ON the eve of his 33rd birthday and on the back of the controversy which consumed his game for Barcelona on Friday last week, Lionel Messi is once again on the jagged side of the headlines.

Read: Maradona has been caught with his pants down, literally!

The Argentine talisman helped Barcelona seal a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou on Tuesday night, providing the all-important assist for Ivan Rakitić in the 71st minute, to send Barça back to the top of La Liga ahead of rivals Real Madrid. Minutes before Rakitic’s winner, however, Messi was – per the opinion of many football fans – fortunate to avoid punishment following a rash challenge on Yeray Álvarez.

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Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is once again the scrutiny of fans (Image: Sourced).

As the ball was cut back to the edge of the box, Álvarez slid in and cleared the danger. But rather than jump out of the way as this played out, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner went in with his studs to land on the Athletic defender. So, the question that begs: should the Barcelona captain have seen red for this challenge? Many people on social media seem to think so.

Madrid-based newspaper Marca, meanwhile, have asked their readers whether Messi should have been sent off. At the time of writing, more than half of those who had voted believed La Liga’s record scorer should have received his marching orders from referee Jesus Gil.

This is the second time in as many games that Messi has controversially avoided punishment during a league fixture. In Barça’s 0-0 draw against Sevilla last week, Messi appeared to have clobbered defender Diego Carlos in the throat – with the latter’s reaction rather dramatic as he fell to the ground – and somehow avoided even a yellow card.

Do you think Messi should have been given his marching orders after the challenge on Álvarez? Share your thoughts below.